How a life-threatening diagnosis and kidney transplant motivated Leeds entrepreneur to build a business

Manpreet Singh 18 months post transplant

Leeds entrepreneur, Manpreet Singh found a new lease of motivation after a traumatic personal battle behind closed doors gave him a whole new perspective that he used to drive his business forward.

Manpreet founded his business, Bobble Digital – a media-focused digital marketing agency in 2017 at 27 years old, following a terminal diagnosis of IgA nephropathy, also known as IgA disease or Berger’s disease – a kidney disease that causes inflammation and kidney damage, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure – as it did in Manpreet’s case. This led him to make the risky decision to have a kidney transplant in the height of the pandemic in spring 2020.

Telling his story to help raise awareness of IgA nephropathy and to inspire other entrepreneurs facing uncertain health issues, Manpreet explains: “The idea to start Bobble Digital originally came midway through 2016, when I was forced to move to part-time hours at my job due to my symptoms progressing. I needed to earn the same level of income in a way that allowed me to work more flexibly and at my own pace.

“For four to six months leading up to my kidney failure I experienced chronic fatigue, tiredness and lack of appetite. I had very little energy to get out of bed each morning. In December 2016 however, things took a drastic turn for the worst. I caught pneumonia and what little function my kidneys had was killed off. I spent New Year’s Day of 2017 seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia and kidney failure, and was told I would start dialysis within a week.

“It was completely devastating and took a long time to come to terms with. I was told dialysis treatment isn’t a permanent solution, as the body can only handle so much and that I’d be lucky to live for another 15 years. To hear this at just 27 years old was a total shock, it took a huge toll on my mental health, I lost all sense of purpose, and felt the best years of my life and plans for the future were being robbed from me.

“Going through dialysis was exhausting and life-altering. I could no longer travel far, go on holiday, I couldn’t even drink much fluid, I struggled to walk long distances, sleep, dealt with many infections with my dialysis line, I was in hospital multiple times a week and had multiple surgeries. I had to take lots of medications every day, my life felt like it revolved around a box of pills. It didn’t feel like living anymore, it felt like a life of just surviving.

“Setting up Bobble Digital gave me purpose again. It gave me something to be passionate about and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In the early days of the business, it was a way to help me survive. However, when I began to build a pattern and control of my treatment – my mindset shifted to ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’ and I became focused on improving. I learned I needed a positive mindset to keep moving forward and that became a powerful tool I use in my daily life now – to keep fighting on even through the toughest of times.

“Of course, there’s been times when I thought running a business was too much whilst dealing with all the symptoms and side effects of treatment and the mental toll. The initial economic impact of covid even nearly ended the business, but I took this as a lesson and accepted that sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again, there are always good days and bad days but the good days give you the energy and enthusiasm to continue.

“There were many difficulties that came with running the business whilst going through dialysis, I had to account 6 hours 3 times a week for dialysis – so fitting when I could work around this was hard. However, once settled into a routine and moving my treatment pattern into evenings meant I could work whilst on dialysis.”

In order to make Bobble Digital a success, Manpreet also sold assets including his beloved Mustang so he could invest funds into the business. He shared: “Things like the Mustang are just materialistic, they hold no value in the grand scheme of things and I knew I had the skill set and expertise to rebuild everything I had, so it was an easy decision to make”.

In March 2020, Manpreet was given a life-changing opportunity to go ahead with a kidney transplant. He shared: “It was a scary decision to make, as although the odds of surviving a kidney transplant are high (around 99%), there was the risk of my body rejecting the kidney. The biggest risk, however, was catching covid, as this was during the worst of the pandemic when a lot was unknown – other than if I did catch it, there was a high risk it could be fatal.

“After a lot of thought about the risks, the extremely tough road to recovery and also the financial impact it would have on the business and support from amazing friends, family and doctors, I decided to go ahead. Ultimately the doctor’s confidence gave me enough hope that it was worth the gamble, and I’m lucky to say it has changed my life, I will be forever grateful to all the doctors, surgeons and nurses and everyone else who has helped me through this journey.”

Now, five years since being dealt the blow he potentially had only 15 years to live, the charismatic entrepreneur, whom listeners to marketing advice podcast BobblePod – will know as #MrBobble – Manpreet has guided the business to achieve astonishing success. The agency has grown into a fully-fledged agency team, achieving a 300% growth in turnover from 2020 to 2021, through supporting local, national and international brands with their digital marketing.

On Bobble Digital’s success, Manpreet commented: “Making the business a success has been what’s kept me going through these incredibly testing times. However, the business wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have without our fantastic team and clients”.

Since having his transplant, Manpreet still lives with the risk that the IgA nephropathy may come back and impact his transplant and has to take daily steroid medication indefinitely – but he doesn’t let this get in the way of living his life to the full and is working towards plans to open international Bobble Digital offices in the near future.

What is immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy?

IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when IgA deposits build up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that damages kidney tissues. IgA is an antibody and protein made by the immune system to protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses.

What are the symptoms?

Each person can have different signs and symptoms, but the most common are:

-Hematuria: Having blood in your urine that can sometimes make it dark brown or cola-coloured.

-Proteinuria: Foamy urine due to large amounts of protein leaking into your urine.

Kidney Donation

Donating a live kidney can potentially save someone’s life. Find out more and register your interest to become a kidney donor here:

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