By Bejay Browne
THE NUMBER of patients in need of life saving dialysis treatment at Paphos renal unit saw a huge increase in the first two months of the year.
According to the chairman of the Cyprus Kidney Association-Paphos, there is usually around a twenty per cent increase in patients year on year, but during the first two months of 2015 alone numbers increased by ten per cent.
According to Graham Brown 2,500 people in Paphos need dialysis imminently and 5,000 with kidney problems attend the kidney outpatient unit.
The prevalence of thalassemia, an inherited genetic disease, passed on from parents to children is one reason why the demand for dialysis is high in Cyprus. This blood disorder is three times more prevalent in Cypriots than elsewhere. It is also due to modern living, he noted.
“Our way of life means that our bodies are not able to cope with all of the toxins we are putting in them – from processed foods, shampoos, sun cream and so on. All of these are chemicals,” he said.
He went on to explain that there are only three ways in which a body can get rid of toxins, through the kidneys, liver and sweat glands.
“There are 82,000 Cypriots affected by kidney disorders and 32, 000 are predicted to need dialysis treatment before they are 70,” he said.
Increasing numbers of patients and his own need for regular lifesaving dialysis, is keeping Brown focused on improving facilities available at Paphos Renal Unit,. Since June 2014, the association and its supporters have raised in excess of 60,000 euros. Some of this has been used to replace old and ageing machines, purchase a number of chair beds at a cost of 3,500 each and also to allow for a small extension to the unit.
“We have completed a small extension, by knocking through walls, so that three more machines have been put in. This will enable 15 more patients to be treated. The bed chairs are due to arrive from Portugal in two weeks’ time,” he added.
Brown, 65, only took over as chairman of the association in April 2014, 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 2013.
He is now one of many patients who need regular dialysis treatment for five hours, three times a week, to keep him alive.
Brown pointed out that the association has recently changed its name and logo from Cyprus Kidney Association Expats to The Cyprus Kidney Association Paphos, to reflect the work they undertake.
“We changed our name and logo on World Kidney Day – March 12 – as people were asking why is it only for expats. But it’s not, it’s for everyone.”
Five new machines have been installed at the unit – two purchased by the association and a further three donated by betting chain OPAP
The main renal unit has 15 dialysis machines – including one which is housed in ICU.
“We are now looking to revamp the entire ward and technicians from the manufactures of the dialysis machines have said that we should be able to fit in another two machines,” he said.
The association was hoping to build an external extension to the ward which would enable more people to receive lifesaving treatment, but recent studies showed that the terrain is unsuitable.
“Unfortunately architects and surveys said that the sub soil is not good enough to do an external extension as I had hoped, and so we are trying to find room elsewhere.”
However, Brown said that he would still like to get some sort of external unit up and running. One option is to ship over small units which could be placed close to the hospital.
“Self-contained dialysis units are available from the UK. They can be shipped here and include a doctor’s office, two dialysis machines, chair beds and so on. I haven’t discussed this with the hospital yet, but I would love to get a couple of those erected in the car park.”
Brown said that the situation is dire and an uphill struggle, but added that Dr LakisYioukkas who runs the Paphos renal unit, is very supportive and the nurses are very appreciative and do a fantastic job.
Brown said that the five online hemodiafiltration (HDF) units’ which are now up and running, enable patients to receive the best treatment possible. Each comes with a price tag of €25,000 and have the potential to reduce the mortality rate of patients by 30 per cent.
There are more than 200 patients waiting for dialysis treatment in Paphos and it is only offered to patients who are at a critical stage.
“We are all on a five day ‘life cycle’. If we don’t get treatment every two days we will be dead within five days,” 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.
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.
The Cyprus Kidney Association Paphos is continuing to raise much needed funds through events and further information is available at the dedicated Facebook page and their website.
www.cypruskidney.com, [email protected], Graham Brown 99244679