Falkirk deli was transplant patient Diane's dream
A transplant patient’s new kidney may be rejecting her body but it has not stopped her embracing her dream life as the owner of a delicatessen.
Diane Walker (43) has no doubt about what she enjoys most about running Di’s Deli, in Blinkbonny Road, Falkirk.
"I’m a real people person,” said Diane. “I like working here, with people coming in and giving me their life stories.”
If only customers knew the life story of the extraordinary woman serving them.
A few years ago she felt so ill with her kidney problems she got her ex-partner to promise her he was going to look after their two children – Stephanie (20) and Steven (15) – after she was gone.
Diane, originally from Grangemouth and now living in Redding, was 35 when she was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy – a kidney disease that results in inflammation that, over time, can hamper the kidneys' ability to filter waste from blood.
She was put on the transplant waiting list when she was 39 and spent eight months on dialysis as her kidneys began to fail.
Diane had been getting training on how to operate a home dialysis machine – in order for her to continue her child minding job – and was just days away from having one delivered when she got the call saying a kidney was available.
She underwent a seven-hour transplant operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow in 2018.
"It was two days after my 40th birthday. I said Happy Birthday Diane, here’s a kidney.”
Due to her medical situation Diane found herself sheltering throughout the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately she began rejecting her new kidney shortly after she had received her second COVID-19 vaccination, which she was told it was purely a coincidence.
"Dialysis really knocked me for six, but I don’t think I would want to go through another transplant again – it’s so hard on the family. My daughter was really worried about me all the way through it.”
In fact Stephanie has offered to go through testing to see if one of her kidneys would be a match for her mum.
"I couldn’t put her through that,” said Diane, who was forced to leave her childminding job due to her health condition and went back into temporary office work.
Her dream of owning her own business was never far from her mind.
"I wanted a snack bar for years but couldn’t get a pitch. When the place in Blinkbonny Road was advertised I just went for it – you only live once.”
Diane opened Di’s Deli on June 4 and things have been going well.
"The community has been absolutely brilliant. I’m running the deli myself, but my friend Clair has been popping in and helping out. I’m still getting treatment every two weeks, trying to get things under control, but I don’t feel any worse for it just now.
"The transplant is only a treatment for the condition I have, it’s not a cure. My new kidney is still being scarred by my condition – it’s still with me. I may have ten years before it fails, or five or two years.
"I just live my life to the full. You need to be positive.”