By Bejay Browne
THE PAPHOS hospital renal unit is finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for life-saving dialysis as new patients are registering virtually every month, it says.
The unit is to receive a new €25,000 state-of-the-art dialysis machine next week, the money for which was raised by the Paphos-based Cyprus Kidney Association (ex-pats) with a substantial donation of €7,000 from the Dashin Foundation.
At the moment the renal unit at the hospital has 11 dialysis machines in use, and one available for spares. All 11 machines are working to capacity, and are outdated.
The kidney association is currently in the process of raising money for a second state-of-the-art machine by the end of the year. Currently they have come up with around €9,000 towards the cost. Without dialysis kidney patients would invariably die within one week.
Dr Lakis Yioukkas who runs the Paphos renal unit, said the new machine was vital and it also gives a special type of dialysis “which is better for the patient as their blood will be clearer,” he said.
Yioukkas said close to 6,000 dialysis treatments were carried out at the facility last year and new machines were urgently needed.
“I currently have 53 patients needing dialysis. This has increased considerably from a few years ago where numbers were around 20,” he said.
The doctor said the main cause of renal failure was diabetes and this was now increasing dramatically on a global scale due to the lifestyle many people adopt.
“In Paphos, the second main cause is also hereditary,” said Yioukkas.
“Latest statistics show that at least 10 per cent of the population of Paphos suffers with some sort of kidney problems. If you say that the population of the district is 100,000; that’s 10,000 kidney patients,” he added.
According to the kidney association, the specific genetic disorder in Paphos could be traced back to villages in the Marathasa region about 400 years ago.
This genetic predisposition would cause 40 per cent of male patients with kidney disorder to end up on dialysis before they were 70.
Yioukkas said new patients presenting were of all ages, even as young as 40.
He said there were five stages of kidney failure and it was only at Stage 5 that dialysis or transplants were needed. Dialysis involves five hour stints three days a week.
“In the last 20 years we have also carried out 80 kidney transplants in Paphos and the number is increasing,” said the doctor. “People need to change their lifestyles, their diet and exercise more frequently.”
In general, according to studies, one in ten Cypriots, or 80,000 people will suffer from a kidney disorder in the foreseeable future, and Cypriots suffer nearly three times the European average for serious kidney complaints.
Graham Brown, 64, suffers from a hereditary condition-polycystic kidney disease- and he recently took over as the chairman of the Cyprus Kidney Association (ex-pats), which was set up in 2000 to raise funds for the renal unit.
He spoke to the Cyprus Mail while hooked up to a dialysis machine at the hospital. Following the removal of one of his kidneys, he started dialysis treatment in November last year.
Brown said that the latest machine is the most modern one on the market, complete with a touch screen. It is smaller and more reliable than machines currently in use at the unit, which sees the technician constantly having to repair one or other of them, he said.
“A technician is flying over from the manufacturers in Germany for four days to instruct all the nurses within the unit on the use of this ultra modern state of the art piece of equipment. The nurses are all really pleased and we are hoping that it makes their job easier.”
Brown said the association’s goal was to eventually replace the 11 hospital machines with the new equipment.
We have all sorts of fundraising events planned… I’m feeling really positive that we’re going to do it.”
The association also has a new website: www.cypruskidney.com