By Bejay Browne
A PAPHOS based charity has raised enough funds to install two new dialysis machines at the renal unit of Paphos general hospital, with the government promising to foot the bill for three more.
Thanks to the efforts of the Cyprus Kidney Association (expats), the unit now has a pair of ‘online hemodiafiltration (HDF) units’ up and running, enabling patients to receive the best treatment possible. Each comes with a price tag of €25,000 and according to association chairman Graham Brown, the government has promised to supply the unit with a further three machines.
The Paphos renal unit was finding it hard to keep up with the demand for the life-saving treatment as new patients are registering virtually every month. Until recently, there were 11 ageing dialysis machines in use at the hospital and one available for spares, with all working to capacity.
Graham Brown, 64, took over as chairman of the association in April, determined to raise the profile of the charity. He was diagnosed with a hereditary condition of polycystic kidney disease and following the removal of one of his kidneys at a Paphos hospital, he started dialysis treatment at the general in November last year.
He is now one of many patients who need regular dialysis treatment for five hours, three times a week, to keep him alive.
“I have been receiving treatment on the first new machine for three weeks. The difference is astronomical; the old machines are using 25-year-old technology,” he said.
The treatment cleans the patients’ blood, removes a build-up of toxins and regulates potassium and electrolyte levels. These machines artificially perform the same job as a healthy kidney would.
Brown said the new machines have the potential to reduce the mortality rate of patients by 30 per cent.
He noted that a large store room within the unit is being converted where purified water and the mechanics have already been set up, which will enable 8-10 new patients to receive treatment. “We still have 200 waiting in Paphos,” he said.
The association is also in the process of buying two new ‘chair beds’ for the dialysis unit which are being ordered from Germany at a cost of €3,000 each.
Since 2000, the association has also bought oxygen masks, blood pressure monitors and a crash trolley. More recently, they donated specialised beds, an ECG machine, specialised patient weighing machines and a portable scanner.
They have also provided computers and office equipment for the medical team, as well as televisions for the patients.
The chairman added that the Royal Artemis clinic and the association have recently joined forces to offer dialysis to holiday makers who might find it difficult to be treated at Paphos general hospital.
Brown said that as the profile of the charity has been raised over the last few months, the government has promised the association a further three new machines. The funds have been allocated and the unit is just waiting for the paperwork, said Brown.
He added that necessary blood lines, filters and powders cost the government €350 per patient per treatment. This equates to €250,000 a year per machine.
“That is a serious amount of money and we appreciative everything the government does.”
“A charity event held at Elea golf club in Paphos recently ‘Cyprus kidney golf challenge’ raised over €7,000. It’s fantastic.”
In the future, Brown said that the association is hoping to extend the renal unit at the hospital and the manufacturers of the machines have generously offered to pay 50% of the construction costs.