Research award goes to Leicester kidney transplant patient

Posted by ap507 at Jul 25, 2016 09:22 AM |
Former Emmerdale actor scoops award

Issued by the Leicester Diabetes Centre on 25 July

A former Emmerdale actor from Leicester who underwent a kidney transplant has scooped an award for his part in research into the condition.

John Savage, who has suffered from kidney problems all his life, received the prize at the UK Kidney Week 2016 conference in Birmingham for presenting findings from a patient involvement study conducted last year.

The aim of the research was to identify questions people have about sport and intensive exercise following their transplant operation.

Mr Savage, who also appeared in the 2009 film The Damned United, said: “Once you have a transplant you quite literally have a new lease of life. You are so appreciative of the new organ that you don’t want to do anything which might damage it.

“Many people just want to know how much exercise they’re able to do and whether intensive training can put too much pressure on their heart. We identified there’s a significant knowledge gap among both patients and healthcare professionals which must be addressed.”

The 35-year-old worked closely with NIHR-supported staff and students from the Leicester Kidney Exercise Team.

A number of areas were identified for further research. It is hoped future analysis will eventually provide transplant patients with better advice on how they can participate in everyday activities without damaging their kidney.

Researcher Dr Alice Smith, who leads the Leicester Kidney Exercise Team, said: “Many people are keen to participate in sport and exercise but they struggle to find appropriate advice and support about how much they can do. Finding out issues that patients have after their operation was incredibly useful.

“It gives us a starting point for future research which we believe will be vital in helping patients understand their limits and capabilities post-operation.

“The event also helped illustrate the value and importance of involving patients at the earliest stage of the research process to ensure that studies address the genuine needs of the intended user group.”

The team also won awards for developing an education module to help increase patient understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle with chronic kidney disease, and for its work in creating a self-directed programme to promote physical activity for people with kidney disease in a bid to improve their health.  

The research was mainly funded by the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit Biomedical Research Unit (BRU).

The staff involved in the study were from University Hospitals Leicester (UHL), the University of Leicester (UoL) and Loughborough University and are BRU faculty members.

BRUs are focused on translational clinical research, taking new ideas from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside to improve health. The Leicester and the Leicester-Loughborough BRU is a national centre of excellence in diet, lifestyle and physical activity.

It harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat chronic disease.

Notes to editors:

  • For further details, to arrange an interview or more photographs, email
  • The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) is funded by the NIHR. By harnessing the power of experimental science we will explore and develop innovative lifestyle interventions to help prevent and treat chronic disease for the benefit of all. The BRUs undertake translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need.
  • The Leicester Kidney Exercise Team is a multidisciplinary research group based at Leicester General Hospital which comprises health professionals from the University of Leicester, University Hospitals of Leicester and Loughborough University. They are dedicated to enhancing the health, wellbeing and quality of life of people with kidney disease through appropriate physical activity and exercise.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

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