“People are what we call ‘health conscious’ in that they are exercising and dieting more but most persons do not have regular health assessments; as a matter of fact, most persons would only visit the doctor when they feel sick and very often by that time, they are at a stage of disease that’s irreversible.
Many persons from all walks of life can relate to those timely words which were echoed by Unit Manager at the Dialysis Unit at Mount St. John’s Medical Center, Sister Debra Lewis who, ahead of World Kidney Day which is observed on March 8th, continues to appeal to members of the public to avoid the risk factors which can lead to kidney failure.
The Ministry of Health and the Environment’s Public Relations Department, who interviewed Sister Lewis, said that it all boils to down lifestyle changes and proper monitoring of one’s health if they are to lower the risks associated with this disease.
“So persons need to have regular check-ups done with their doctors.
For some persons, diet and lifestyle still need adjusting while others who know that they are already suffering from diabetes or hypertension would also need to be compliant with their medication in order to keep their blood sugar and blood sugar under control,” Sister Lewis noted.
It is important to note that diabetes and hypertension- two common NCDs, which are now plaguing society, are both precursors to kidney failure.
According to Sister Lewis, well over a dozen patients are now being dialyzed per shift.
“We are now dialyzing 16 patients per shift, running 3 shifts per day- Mondays, Tuesdays Thursdays, and Fridays. Our day now ends at 10 pm,” she revealed.
According to Sister Lewis, the unit’s expansion was completed and opened on Thursday 1st. But with continuous education and awareness being brought to the door-step of members of the public about the importance of kidney care and the risks involved, there should be less need for further expansion of the service.
Sister Lewis shared some comparative stats with us which spanned a period of five years.
And from the looks of things, the upward trend with regards to this disease is evident.
For the period 2014-2016, they were 61-76 patients and for 2017- present, the unit is treating 91-87 patients.
When a person begins dialysis treatment, does he/she have to take it forever?
“Yes …A patient with chronic kidney failure once started on dialysis would need to be treated for the rest of his/her life unless they undergo a kidney transplant.”
She said the treatment options for chronic kidney failure are (1) Hemodialysis, (2) Peritoneal dialysis and (3) Kidney transplant.
Antigua and Barbuda currently offers 1 and 3, but she said plans are in the pipeline to move towards peritoneal dialysis (where the inside lining of one’s belly acts as the artificial kidney).
The Dialysis Unit which has been in operation since June 1997 is currently managed by an excellent team of doctors, nurses, orderlies, techs, and clerks.
It started out with two (2) persons being dialyzed and the records continue to show a steady increase to date.
The number of persons diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy now total147.
In terms of amputations of varying types due to a diabetic condition, the age range and gender are mixed, but from the stats available so far, more males have been subject to this procedure compared to females. A 25-year-old is the youngest who’ve had a procedure done so far.
Antigua and Barbuda officially observes World Kidney Day on March 8th.