Aspiring footballer loses fight to kidney failure

September 11, 2023
Chester Laidley
Chester Laidley

Chester Laidley dreamed of having his legs straightened and receiving a new pair of kidneys so he could play football.

But that dream will never be actualised as the 21-year-old football enthusiast passed away in his sleep late last week.

News of the death of Laidley, an end-stage renal failure patient has shocked his friends and family, some of whom longed to witness his skills on a football field. Oraine Simpson, Laidley's closest friend, who is also diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, met him at the Kingston Public Hospital [KPH] about a decade ago, where they underwent dialysis.

"I met Chester as a small child, he was around 11 or 12 years old and he came to KPH after me with kidney failure. I found him to be a very kind, easy-going individual I could talk to and then I had no friends, and knowing we bonded as patients he was the only one who knew me and I knew him. So we shared everything, every secret for over 10 years," Simpson shared, noting that they would sit facing each other when they went for dialysis twice weekly.

Laidley and his family left his home in Swift River, Portland, to reside in Kingston due to the cost associated with travelling for medical care. However, Simpson believes Laidley had found a confidant in him.

"Hypothyroidism affected his legs and he had a difficulty walking. But he loved football and it hurt that he couldn't play any more. He said if he could fix his legs and get new kidneys he would become a footballer. We motivated each other daily and joked about everything to stay happy," Simpson shared with THE STAR.

Their last interaction, as Simpson recalled was last Tuesday, when Laidley told him that he had pains in his neck, shortness of breath and was coughing up blood.

"I told him it was serious and knowing that we treatment the next day, I told him to speak with the doctor first thing and get antibiotics and cough medicine, plus have them leak out some of his blood because it will clot and it can kill you. Wednesday I came to treatment but I didn't see him. I called him and got no answer. A nurse said he went for X-ray," Simpson related

He eventually saw Laidley and noticed his eyes were red, stressing that "you could see the pain he was in". He shared further that Laidley promised that they would see each other on Saturday when he received his X-ray results. But on Thursday, he received a devastating call.

"His sister sounded frightened and she said she don't know how to tell me but he's dead, they found him cold, with his eyes open. I hung up and my heart sank. Tears rushed down my face. I was speechless, total sadness; I felt anger. It was one of the worst feelings ever in my adult life like I just lost a major part of me," he said.

Simpson is hoping to raise more awareness of kidney failure and is urging Jamaicans to take their health seriously.

"I wish people could understand what is kidney failure and how serious it is and the epidemic it's causing in Jamaica. I try through sharing my story to get people aware, but I don't know if my reach is enough, because people have never seen inside a dialysis unit and what the disease does to people."

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