Given the fast pace of life these days, it is difficult to imagine how end-stage renal disease patients manage to find 12 hours every week for the life-saving dialysis treatment they need.
Freelance journalist and National Renal Care (NRC) Hillcrest patient Ayanda Nkosi, 32, says that dialysis has become a part of life, which she has had to learn to embrace. “I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure last year July and it has been one of the most difficult experiences in my life, but also one of the most enlightening,” she explains.
Ayanda has three dialysis sessions, each lasting four hours, per week at the NRC unit within the Hillcrest Private Hospital. NRC first established a unit at the hospital in 2013, but recently tripled its capacity when it moved to a larger suite in the hospital.
“That’s twelve hours of my week spent undergoing dialysis. To some people, this might seem unimaginable and I am often asked what I do to pass the time during my therapy.”
While many patients read a book or take a nap during haemodialysis, the majority make the most of the time by socialising with their fellow patients. “As we dialyse in groups, there is always a chance to meet and socialise with other people. The setup of our beds allows for interaction between patients so that no one feels isolated.”
Up to 40 patients can be treated at the new unit, which offers haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and the Healthy Start programme, as well as dialysis for isolation patients requiring infection control measures.
Haemodialysis is a life-saving procedure for people with kidney function impairment, involving a dialysis machine filtering the blood by providing an artificial purifying mechanism when their kidneys can no longer eliminate dangerous toxins from their bodies. Peritoneal dialysis is another form of dialysis, involving fluid exchange via a membrane in the patient’s abdomen.
Ayanda says: “We have just moved to a bigger unit that can accommodate more patients and I see this as a further opportunity to meet new people. I enjoy chatting to the other patients; there is something to be learnt from each one of them. Sometimes we swap jokes and stories, or discuss what is in the news. Some of the older patients, in particular, have wonderful wisdom to impart.”
There is a great sense of solidarity among patients, explains Ayanda. “We all spend a lot of time together and so it is no surprise that we begin to feel like a family. Sharing our stories about kidney failure and the challenges we experience brings a great sense of comfort to me. It really helps knowing you are not the only one going through this, as there are others who know exactly how you feel.”
NRC Hillcrest unit leader Francois De Marcy Pugin says that the new spacious unit aims to provide a tranquil and positive environment for the patients. “Since our patients are with us for quite a few hours every week, we aim to make our unit a kind of oasis for them. It is their time away from it all, in a safe haven, and we want to help them make the most of it. Our new unit has a wonderful atmosphere, enhanced by extensive natural light and views of the golf estates that surround the Hillcrest Private Hospital.”
De Marcy Pugin says that greater demand for the NRC Hillcrest’s services signalled the need for it to move, however the convenience of its location within the hospital could not be bettered. “We are therefore pleased that our unit’s new home is so perfectly situated, with improved capacity and state-of-the-art facilities.”
“The Healthy Start programme, which is also on offer at NRC Hillcrest, offers dietary and lifestyle advice to patients who have been diagnosed with kidney disease. The aim of the programme is to prolong their renal function and preserve quality of life,” De Marcy Pugin explains.
“Our skilled staff members, supported by nephrologist Dr Balram Naidoo, provide our patients with the life-saving treatment they need within a professional and caring environment.”
Ayanda praised the Hillcrest NRC staff for their efficient and personalised care. “One of the most rewarding things I see at the unit is the sense of camaraderie between the nurses and the patients. I have made so many new friends through dialysis and formed close bonds with the nursing staff. I know that I made the right decision in becoming a part of the NRC family,” she concluded.
National Renal Care (Pty) Ltd operates as a joint venture between Adcock Ingram Critical Care (Pty) Ltd and Netcare Limited and offers a range of additional services to patients, including nutritional guidelines, patient education and support groups for patients and their families.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of NRC
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]