You read that right. Warren Higgs from the U.K. is breaking records for his enlarged kidneys, each of which weighs around 44 pounds. The organs have become so large that they are now in danger of crushing his other organs, including his lungs and heart, leaving him struggling to move or breathe.
The only good news is that he now holds the records for the world’s largest kidney, but the title isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.
The 54-year-old says he inherited polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which causes cysts to form in the kidney. That led to a stroke about 15 years ago, paralyzing the right side of his body.
His condition got even worse five years ago when his kidneys started to balloon in size. Higgs’ doctors say renal swelling is a common side effect of PKD, but his kidneys are about five times larger than they should be.
“Considering your kidneys are meant to be the size of a clenched fist, mine are massive,” he said.
His latest scan showed his left kidney measured 16 inches by 10.6 inches, while his right came in at 19.2 inches by 11 inches, a potentially record-breaking organ. Weighing about 44 pounds, they are about the size of an Olympic barbell.
“Mine are extreme. They just grow continuously,” he said.
Higgs’ unfortunate situation is getting him into the history books. His organs are believed to be three times larger than the current record holder.
On Thanksgiving of 2019, a team of surgeons in India removed a 16.3-pound kidney from a man. He too suffered from autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. The doctors said cystic kidneys don’t always need to be surgically removed, but these failed to respond to medication, leaving them no choice but to take them out over the course of a 2-hour procedure. They had to spend 30 minutes just digging out the enlarged urinary organ.
As you can imagine, Higgs says he’s none too pleased with his new title.
“It’s not really a record you want to live with,” he said. The jump in size is wreaking havoc on Higgs’ body. He added that these organs are “crushing my lungs, crushing my stomach, and I know they’ve just done a recent scan and they’re crushing my heart now.”
“It’s horrible because I can’t move. I can’t breathe. You just can’t do anything.”
Higgs is scheduled to undergo surgery later this year to remove the massive organs. Once they’re out, he’d love to hang them on his wall like a trophy. “I want them to go on my fireplace,” but he admits that displaying his organs isn’t exactly in good taste.
But that’s just the beginning of Higgs’ long road to recovery. After the surgery, he’ll need to go on regular dialysis as he tries to get back in shape after years of being virtually immobile.
Several local charities have come together to create a GoFundMe page for Higgs so he can purchase a custom-built electric wheelchair to get around during his post-op recovery.
The page gives insight into his state of mind during the ordeal.
“Despite all this, you never see him without a smile on his face, and he is known for spreading positivity throughout the community. Warren is always finding ways to help others in the community, and he is always putting others before himself. A new wheelchair will be life-changing for Warren. It will help him regain the independence and mobility that he once had,” the fundraiser reads.
It’s hard to imagine living with two 44-pound weights strapped to your midsection, but Higgs is doing his best to survive one day at a time.