Above: Conal Beban (left) and kidney donor Andy Bryant.
Insurance adviser Conal Beban was diagnosed with heart failure and end-stage renal failure in 2017. This is the story of his fight back to health and how insurance protected his family…
Conal Beban’s medical problems came of out of the blue. The insurance adviser suddenly found himself in intensive care diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a condition that affects the heart muscle – and end-stage renal failure.
Dr Bruce King, who treated Beban at Nelson Hospital, says his heart function improved with treatment, while his kidney function continued to deteriorate.
Beban, who works with Nelson Marlborough Insurance Brokers had comprehensive life risk insurance, but knew his cover needed to be reviewed as his expertise was in general insurance. His adviser suggested he take out trauma cover and income protection.
The medical strategy for managing Beban’s health after his diagnosis was medication combined with changes in lifestyle such as a low-sodium, ‘bland’ diet. This meant Beban avoided dialysis for several years.
Beban says: “The doctors make it clear that your best-case scenario is to get a pre-emptive transplant from a live donor, which means you have a transplant before you’re on dialysis.
“I let my mates know what was going on because I’d been told I would eventually need a kidney transplant.”
Andy Bryant, who went on to be Beban’s donor, saw him a few months after his diagnosis and knew his friend’s condition was serious.
Beban says: “Andy rang me up one day and just offered to donate a kidney if he was compatible. I don’t think I even asked him in the first place. That’s a great New Zealander.”
Beban was in luck, Bryant’s kidney was a match. Three years later Beban’s condition had deteriorated to the point where a transplant was needed, and an operation was set for January 2022.
“I had income protection, so I could take my time to recover,” says Beban. “I have really great colleagues and I knew they’d take care of my work while I was away. In fact, that was the most disappointing thing – I’m not as indispensable as I thought.
“…The income protection would pay me for six months anyway. It was really good to have that extra time.”
These days, both Beban and Bryant live active and healthy lifestyles, without any limitations from their respective operations. They are also both active in raising awareness for organ donation.