A Northampton man with end-stage kidney failure is refusing all treatment from doctors until the medical equipment that was stolen along with his precious rare caravan is recovered
Doctors say that Nigel Sperinck, 61, is so gravelly ill that even a drink of orange juice could kill him and he needs dialysis soon to survive.
But the former engineer is so downcast about the loss of his portable lifeline that he has gone on a 'dialysis strike'. His consultant says 10 days without dialysing will kill him [he will dialyse for the final time today, Friday, June 16].
However, Nigel - who lives with his mum at her Northampton home - is adamant this is the only way to guilt the thieves into giving up the vehicle anonymously.
He said: "The caravan was my only possession of any substance.
"It had my dialysis machine in concealed compartments, so it's essentially my portable lifeline."
Nigel had two job interviews in one day last week and, after his kidney problems had blighted his life for years, felt things were finally looking up.
But then the customised £20,000 vehicle - which is 30ft long, 2.5 tonnes - was somehow taken from his driveway while he was upstairs in his house on Saturday night.
He said: "They have stolen my freedom.
"I can't go anywhere or get a decent job because I'd need to be at home to dialyse on every third day.
"Lots of things have happened in my life that have got me down but this feels like the last straw.
"If I get the caravan back then I get something back. Without it... well, I just feel there's no point in continuing to dialise and making myself better. It's a case of 'what's the point' now."
Doctors have been unsuccessfully trying to persuade Nigel to change his mind but say they have sympathy with his situation.
Dr Warren Pickering, Nigel's consultant, backed his patient's appeal for the return of his priceless vehicle.
He said: ‘Whoever took Mr Sperinck’s caravan clearly didn’t understand how important the vehicle is to him.
"The loss of the caravan means that some of Nigel’s important choices around his dialysis have been removed.
"I understand this has been very upsetting for him, as he wants to be as mobile as possible and has put a lot of time and effort into making sure his caravan meets his particular needs.
"We are discussing his care and the options for dialysis with him, and in the meantime hope that he and his caravan are soon reunited."
Kidney failure means that the patient is unable to clean their blood sufficiently, remove toxin buildup and control the fluid accumulation in the body, as they cannot sufficiently pass urine.
The rear room of the vehicle has been modified in a joint effort between the NHS and Nigel himself over a period of more than a year. It has a separate sterilised water supply for the dialysate which cleans the patient's blood and a recessed frame which raises up containing the dialysis machines themselves.
In this respect, this caravan will be unique in the UK, there will be no other towed caravan with a self-contained mobile dialysis system.
Eventually, the increase in potassium will stop Nigel's heart. However, before that the patient will suffer fluid on the lungs, as they cannot get rid of the fluid and will be unable to breathe properly and will be coughing up phlegm and blood.
Furthermore, without Aranesp (Erythopoetin), which is usually administered during dialysis, the haemoglobin will drop to a fraction of a normal person, making them lethargic and unable to get up or move.
Nigel said he doesn't believe the thieves had any idea the serious effects of their crime.
He said: "I will soon be overdue for dialysis and the clock is ticking.
"Without realising, the thieves run the risk of having blood on their hands and a public or community outcry as a result of their theft."
Nigel is recently divorced after being married for more then 30 years.
On Job Seekers Allowance, he describes himself as "absolutely penniless", which is why the caravan was not insured and did not have a tracking device.
"The caravan and the car are the only possessions that I have to show for a lifetime of work," he said.
"My only hope of getting a job and using this caravan as a working base have been snatched.
"I don't have a lot to live for.
"Thieves having taking essentially my only property, which would give me the ability to work anywhere, is the last straw in my miserable life."
Nigel wants anyone who perhaps saw the caravan being towed, and may be able to tell police the direction or type of tow car to call their local force control room.
He is appealing in particular to port authorities and ferry companies as well as caravan sites, builders, traveller groups, circuses and travelling fun fairs.
He said he hoped people could understand his extreme stance on the theft and his dangerous course of action
"I imagine that many of the general public will be disgusted to think that thieves can steal a caravan which represents essentially the only possession, a medical lifeline and the only future hope of improving their circumstances for a person in the dead of night and get away with it scot-free.
"If anyone knows who has taken it, please ask them to take it to a safe parking area and anonymously notify the police where it can be recovered.""Thank you for your help."
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said the theft happened between 6pm last Saturday and 10.10am on Sunday (June 11).
Anyone with information can call Northamptonshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555111.