Monday, 9 July 2012

Share the Care

Imagine how you would cope if you were feeling generally very ill and tired and then you were told that the only way you could keep yourself alive was to have four hours of exhausting treatment two or three times a week in a hospital miles away from your home. This is the situation that faces people suffering from end stage renal failure (kidney disease). Haemodialysis, as it's called, is usually the only treatment available to people with severe Chronic Kidney Disease until such time as they can receive a transplant and as most of us know, the supply of translpant organs is not sufficient to meet the need, by a long way. Dialysis means that a person has to be connected up to a machine that takes the blood out of their system and pumps it through an artificial kidney which removes the toxins that are the product of every day living, and then returns it to them 'cleansed'. If the right equipment can be installed and if the person concerned has help and the confidence to undertake such a rigorous procedure each week, dialysis can be done at home. However, many people do not have the room to install the machines or they might not have a suitable water supply. Others simply can't manage the procedure themselves and may feel too ill to tackle it without on-hand medical supervision. This is where local hospital units that allow patients to come in and dialysis themselves with just a small amount of assistance are invaluable. If someone with kindey disease can travel a relatively short distance to a hospital with what's called a Shared Care Unit, they can be taught to manage their own dialysis fairly independently but  with on-call medical back-up if they need it. This means that fewer hours of medical practitioners' time are taken up than would be the case in a traditional dialysis unit and it also means that patients and their relatives can be supported and gain confidence in the procedures. They may then, at a later date be able to transfer to home dialysis.

At the moment people in our area generally have to travel to Darlinton, York or Leeds for dialysis. You can imagine that if you are also trying to hold down a job or look after children it can be extremely disruptive to have to travel so far. The York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has launched a SHARE THE CARE appeal. They are aiming to raise £200,000 in order to provide a shared care dialysis unit at Harrogate Hospital.

There are around 23,000 people with Chronic Kidnet Disease in North Yorkshire.  For 175 with advanced disease, dialysis is a life line. You may well know someone who has the early stage of the disease. If you would be interested in learning more about this project or helping to fund raise,  visit or e mail

You can also make donations via

Smooth and efficient dialysis in a location near to home can transform the lives of  people who often feel fearful and very unwell, enabling them to live normal lives holding down a job, caring for their families and enjoying activities the rest of us take for granted.

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