Delay in kidney failure diagnosis

22 August 2017

Delay in kidney failure diagnosis meant needless dialysis and transplant
delay kidney failure diagnosis needless dialysis transplant

Stephen Higham, a young single father of two children, suffered kidney failure and required a kidney transplant as a consequence of a delay in diagnosis and treatment, seemingly based only on the assumption by his GP and hospital staff that he was ‘too young’ for such a possibility to be considered.

His suffering could have been avoided by a simple blood or urine test. Had that been carried when he first approached his GP, medical expert evidence obtained to support his claim suggested that he would not have needed dialysis and certainly would not have required a transplant.

Stephen was unknowingly suffering from kidney failure caused by underlying vasculitis for more than two years. It was only when he finally got a blood test at the request of a locum GP and was told that he had about 4% kidney function and should get straight to hospital, that he found out he had kidney problems at all.

He was on emergency dialysis for over a year awaiting a donor kidney when his father, who was found to be a match, stepped in and donated his kidney. Given Stephen’s young age and the limited lifespan of a donor kidney he faces the prospect of undergoing further kidney transplants.

Sharon Banga, an associate in the medical negligence team of national law firm Shoosmiths, has represented Stephen in a medical negligence claim.

The delay in diagnosis and the subsequent kidney failure has had a significant impact on Stephen’s life and that of his family. While undergoing daily dialysis treatment and then the transplant surgery, he was unable to work and relied heavily on the care and support of his family to look after him and his two young daughters.

Travelling to and from the dialysis sessions was tiring, at times boring and quite depressing as he spent a lot of time alone in an unfamiliar environment away from his family and friends. Sharon comments:

‘Doctors seemingly didn’t consider the possibility that Stephen could have kidney failure because they assumed he had age and fitness on his side. His experience highlights the need to raise awareness of kidney failure among younger people themselves as well as medical staff. A simple blood or urine test was all it would have taken to avoid all the problems Stephen faced.’

Shoosmiths can provide initial legal advice on 03700 868686 without any obligation to anyone who has suffered kidney failure, particularly if they have concerns about their medical treatment or need advice about family matters.

Watch Stephen’s story:



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

Contact our experts

Sorry, there are a few problems with the information you have entered. Please correct these before continuing.


One moment please...

Thank You

Your submission has been received. We'll be in touch soon.

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers