He has been called the "miracle guy".
Tauranga's Ross Killoh, aka Mr Whippy, has overcome a rare autoimmune disease that was destroying his kidneys - and now he doesn't need a transplant.
Doctors say only "one in a million" people are diagnosed with anti-GBM [glomerular basement membrane] and the chances of recovery are mostly influenced by time.
They say Killoh is one of the lucky ones.
In February 2018, the 62-year-old ice-cream truck owner noticed blood in his urine and went to Tauranga Hospital.
"I only expected them to give me a pill and go home."
Instead, Killoh was told he had anti-GBM nephritis which meant his antibodies were destroying his kidneys.
Within hours Killoh was sent to Waikato Hospital where he spent the next month receiving aggressive treatments, including chemotherapy and plasma transfusions.
"I did not expect them to whisk me off to hospital where I spent the next month hooked up to machines.
"That was not on the plate. It was a real slam from left field."
For months Killoh had to travel to Waikato Hospital to receive hemodialysis - a process of purifying the blood of a person whose kidneys are not working normally.
"It means you have to be hooked up to a dialysis machine via a tube that was in my neck for four-and-a-half hours, three times a week."
He was in the process of needing a kidney transplant.
To allow him more "freedom", Killoh was later able to receive peritoneal dialysis, which is a way to remove waste products from the blood when a person's kidneys can't quite do the job on their own.
Killoh described it as like a bag wrapped around his organs, which later burst inside his body and he was once again sent to hospital.
While doctors decided whether to put Killoh back on hemodialysis Killoh said his blood levels were "actually holding". His kidneys were starting to work again on their own.
"Days went by, weeks went by and my kidneys have slowly grown from nothing to about 45 per cent [function], which is amazing.
"So no kidney transplant for me."
Killoh said his doctors had told him he was one of few people in New Zealand to have had anti-GBM and not need a kidney transplant.
"They call me the miracle guy.
"It's a nice compliment. It gives me a nice warm feeling."
Since then, Killoh said, he had changed his diet completely, cut out sugar, potassium, magnesium and salt and ate only "kidney-friendly stuff".
Other than getting anaemia and feeling sleepy Killoh said he was recovering well.
"A lot of healing is about your attitude and keeping positive."
Killoh did not know exactly why his kidneys "miraculously" started working again.
"I did everything the doctors said to do," he said.
He also took a homeopathic remedy.
"For some strange reason, the kidneys decided to work again. Maybe it just gave them something to hang on to. We really don't know. But that was the only thing I did differently to everyone else."
Killoh said he was "incredibly grateful everything turned out the way it has".
"You do a lot of thinking when your life is presented to you as very temporary. You start to look at things pretty differently."
He said having the disease gave him an insight into a "very hard life" and empathised with those still suffering from the disease.
His wife, Ann Killoh, is a homeopath and had offered to be her husband's kidney donor in 2018.
A Givealittle page was set up to help raise funds for the pair, who faced being unable to work and without income for months while they recovered from surgery.
However, the much-needed money instead went towards supporting Killoh through his treatments while he was unable to work.
Ann was "just so grateful" her husband did not need the transplant and was recovering well.
"It is absolutely miraculous, it really is."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board nephrologist Dr Gavin McHaffie said anti-GBM disease was rare with an "annual population incidence of around one in a million".
McHaffie said the disease could cause kidney damage "very quickly" in a period of days to weeks.
"The chances of recovery are primarily influenced by time – firstly how quickly patients seek medical attention and secondly how quickly the medical team takes to establish a diagnosis.
"If the patients present at an early stage, with treatment, we would hope that the majority of patients would manage without the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant."
Waikato Hospital renal physician Dr Drew Henderson, who is head of the regional renal centre, said generally patients who needed dialysis as part of their treatment for anti-GBM disease had a low rate of renal recovery, with dialysis independence of 5 to 10 per cent one year after starting treatment.
"The chance of recovery is linked to their kidney function and the degree of damage on the biopsy. The more damage on kidney biopsy the worse the outcome."
Henderson said in patients where some of the filter units (glomeruli) were not involved with the disease there was a higher chance of recovery than if all filter units were involved.
"If all filter units are involved the chance of recovery is less than 1 per cent.
"The disease does not usually recur and small studies have reported recurrence rates of 1 to 2 per cent."