Andy Cole admits to having suicidal thoughts following kidney transplant
"I remember emptying a big bag of medication and just crying and thinking, ‘For me to survive another day, this is what I’ve got to take. For the rest of my life. I’m not sure I can continue.’"
Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole has opened up about his struggles since undergoing kidney transplant surgery 18 months ago.
Cole, who was part of United's Treble-winning squad in 1998/1999, has worked for his former club in an ambassadorial role in recent years and became seriously ill while on one of their trips to Vietnam in 2015. After eventually speaking to a doctor, he discovered his kidney function had reduced to 7% of usual capacity. He underwent a transplant in April of last year, the kidney donated by his nephew.
Although the transplant appears to have been successful, the 47-year-old has revealed in an interview with The Guardian the recovery has taken its toll mentally.
"I was depressed after the transplant because it’s very tough to understand the trauma you still face," he explained.
"I remember emptying a big bag of medication and just crying and thinking, ‘For me to survive another day, this is what I’ve got to take. For the rest of my life. I’m not sure I can continue.’
"I’m still struggling emotionally. Physically I’m also struggling. No two days are the same and the medication means you’re up and down.
"I would never wish this on anybody because it’s a very telling experience. It brings destruction to your family life as well."
Cole also adds that his recovery has also been difficult for his loved ones.
"I apologise now to everybody for being the way I’ve been. What I was doing, torturing myself over an illness, is horrible.
"You push them away because you’re trying to quantify what’s gone on. Eighteen months since the transplant, I know it’s a lifetime illness."
Asked what the impact had been on his marriage, Cole responded: "Massive. It pushes everything to the brink. Before, I would watch people who are depressed and suicidal and not really understand.
"Now I’m in the same position. Depression kicks in, you have suicidal thoughts. They understand it more than most but I’ve pushed my family to the brink.
"Me not telling them exactly how I feel has made this past year the toughest I’ve had.
"When you go through a life-saving [operation] it’s like your credit card. You don’t read the small print.
"Obviously I tell myself I’m more than happy for everything that’s been given to me. But if I wake up one morning and my kidney decides ‘I don’t fancy it today’, I’m back to square one."
Looking to the future, Cole stresses how important it has been to talk about his problems.
"I’ve absolutely hated being ill. Everyone says you shouldn’t feel like that but you think, ‘Shit, I’ve let so many people down.’ But talking about it is my release."