At least 715 people receive renal services in Northland every year, with 187 of those people on dialysis.
This year across Northland, #World Kidney Day is being celebrated on Thursday 14 March with a Fun Run & Walk event in Kaitaia, Bay of Islands and Whangarei, the places where Northland DHB operates Renal Units.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of the high and increasing burden of kidney diseases and the need for strategies for kidney diseases prevention and management,” explains Lisa Harvey-Jack, clinical nurse manager of the Whangarei Hospital Renal Unit.
“Healthy lifestyles, meaning access to clean water, exercise, having a healthy diet and being smokefree can prevent or delay many types of kidney diseases.”
Our kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, found at the back of the abdominal cavity, that filter out wastes and excess fluid from blood and excrete them as urine.
Many kidney disorders may be treated with medications and diet, but if kidney function starts to fail and the condition becomes severe there are several options:
“We provide Haemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis at three haemodialysis sites across Northland plus we have 13 people who manage their haemodialysis treatment at home and another 34 people who manage their peritoneal dialysis at home.”
“We also care for 282 people with Chronic Kidney Disease and work with them and their general practice to ensure they receive blood pressure and cholesterol control, essential through education and medications to delay disease progression.”
The Contact Energy Renal Fund continues to support Northland dialysis patients by funding applications of up to $1,000 towards items that would improve their quality of life on home dialysis.
The Contact Energy Renal Fund was set up in 2009 with an original endowment of $28,200 to help renal patients dialysing themselves at home. The Northland Foundation manages the Fund on behalf of Northland DHB.
Over the 2018 financial year, ten grants were paid out for renal patients, totalling $9,300, for purposes ranging from a generator to prevent loss of dialysis during power cuts to recliner chairs and contributions to power bills.
The last two winters have been a little easier to get through for Ruakaka renal patient Desiree Goldsmith thanks to a $1000 grant she received from the Contact Energy Renal Fund that helps pay hefty power bills to keep her lifesaving dialysis machine running.
Desiree has Alport Syndrome which is a disease that damages the tiny blood vessels in her kidneys. She was first diagnosed in 2001 and had eight months of dialysis before her mother donated one of her kidneys for her to have a transplant. Since then, her kidney function has reduced to 20 percent, she has lost part of her eyesight and hearing and is now unable to work because she has no immune system.
Because of her situation, social workers at Northland DHB put Desiree forward to receive a payment from the Contact Energy Renal Fund. All Desiree needed to do was to decide what would be the best way to use the money to help her remain independent. She already had a lazy boy chair to dialyse in, so decided to put the money towards her power costs.
Desiree tries to keep her costs down by turning off switches around the house and has been contributing some her own money towards her monthly power bill since she first got the fund in 2016 to make the money last as long as possible.
She said she would be stressing without this support, which in turn would make her sick. “It’s a lifesaver. I just couldn’t have coped and I’m so thankful to Contact Energy.”
The Contact Energy Fund has been a great success for renal patients in Northland. Since the first grant was offered in 2016, 24 patients have benefitted from grants, making a real difference in their daily lives. In addition, 46 patients and family members have attended seminars paid for by the Contact Energy Fund, providing patients with an opportunity to share their experiences and gain invaluable knowledge.
Since the fund is now rapidly diminishing, Northland DHB and Northland Foundation are exploring how the fund could be added to, so that it can continue to service the renal patient community.
If you would like to support renal patients in Northland please participate in one of the #WorldKidneyDay events near you on 14 March (more info at www.northlanddhb.org.nz(external link)) or email the Northland Foundation to find out how you can make a donation firstname.lastname@example.org