Gymnast fights kidney failure on her way to Worlds

Gymnast Katherine Paton, 24, who suffers from kidney failure, is fundraising to get herself and her dialysis boxes to Europe so she can compete in the Rhythmic Gymnastics Worlds this August. Photo supplied.

Katherine Paton is much like any other 24-year-old.

She is a sister, a daughter, a qualified vet nurse and a dedicated gymnast who dreams of competing in the Olympics.

And if it weren’t for the dialysis machine in the corner you’d never know she was battling kidney failure.

Katherine has been on daily dialysis for the past three years. Every six hours is spent hooked up to dialysis to keep her alive.

But this isn’t stopping Katherine from chasing her dreams.

Katherine trains four hours a day, six days a week as a member of the New Zealand Seniors Rhythmic Gymnastics group.

And in a little less than a month they will be heading to Europe to take part in two World Cups in Belarus and Russia and a World Championships and training camp in Bulgaria.

The team have their sights set on the 2020 Olympics, for which these competitions will be a stepping stone to getting them there.

Katherine has been in love with gymnastics for as long as she can remember.

She started artistic gymnastics at five-years-old and by 13 she had taken up rhythmic gymnastics.

Katherine (left) and her rhythmic gymnastics team mates. Photo supplied.

But in 2008 at 14, gymnastics was put on hold when she was diagnosed with a genetic mutation that was causing her kidney’s to fail.

Katherine was headed towards end-stage renal failure.

“I suddenly got sick. Flu-like symptoms, with a bit of blurred vision and vomiting, but I was never expecting something like that,” she says.

“They tested my mum immediately and she was a match, so she gave me my first kidney and I will always be grateful to her for that.”

In 2015 after seven years, the kidney that had been donated to Katherine by her mother failed and was removed.

She’s been back on dialysis ever since.

“I have to be careful with everything. I can only eat certain foods, and I’m probably only having about 300-500ml of liquids a day, which includes anything considered a liquid – sauces, yoghurt.”

Since her diagnosis Katherine has had to give up her job as a vet nurse and also say goodbye to her father who passed away after a brave battle with cancer.

“I’ve always come back fighting because if you want something really bad, you do anything to achieve it,” she says.

She doesn’t know how long dialysis will work for her.

“I’ve been told that the life expectancy [for someone on dialysis] is five years, but then I was talking to someone on Facebook who had been on [dialysis] for 18 years so I really don’t know that the future holds,” she says.

But for now she is focused on keeping herself healthy by maintaining her dialysis, eating the correct food and controlling her fluid intake.

She is also training for her European trip and trying to raise enough money to get her dialysis equipment overseas.

With the trip less than a month away, she has raised only 10 per cent of the $20,000 needed to cover the cost of the journey, including getting her dialysis boxes delivered to the countries she will be visiting.

Katherine leaves for Europe on August 12.

  • You can make a donation here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/kidney-kid-to-europe-to-compete-in-rhythmic-worlds