CRH introduces kidney transplant programme

Monday, October 14, 2013

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Administrators and medical personnel at Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), the leading health institution in Western Jamaica, are always striving to put the institution on the cutting edge of 21st Century medicine.


The latest initiative is the introduction of a Kidney Transplant project on October 8.


Through collaboration with a medical team from the United Kingdom, named Transplant Links Community (TLC), three kidney transplants were performed at the CRH over three days (October 8 to 10), with surgeons from both the CRH and TLC participating.


The TLC is a charity with the primary objective of improving medical skills in developing countries, and saving lives through kidney transplants.


Kidney replacement is both cost-effective and designed to improve and increase a patient's life expectancy, when compared to being regularly dialysed. At present, the CRH has approximately 160 patients on dialysis.


Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, in addressing a press briefing held at the CRH on October 11, cited the success of the initiative.


He noted that his immediate approval for the collaboration was in keeping with one of the Government's strategic priorities, with a focus on human capital development.


"I want to congratulate the CRH team, the nurses, the doctors and the administrators, who had the vision and the tenacity to ensure that this programme became a reality," the minister said.


The decision to start the programme at the CRH, Dr Ferguson said, is good for Jamaica. "It is a decision that in years to come, we will all be very happy to see the programme grow and to see a sustainable transplant programme, as is taking place in Trinidad," Dr Ferguson said.


The minister thanked members of both teams for their service to the people who will benefit from the operations.


He highlighted that the collaboration between the TLC group and the team from the CRH will lead to the transfer of skills, which should result in the sustainability of the programme at the CRH. He expressed confidence that the programme will significantly improve the quality of life of persons who benefit from the project.


Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at the CRH, Dr Delroy Fray, told JIS News that the surgeries had impacted the whole CRH community.


"I believe this is the epitome of what altruism is all about. You see a sister donating a kidney to a sister; a brother to a sister and the most touching part of it, a wife donating a kidney to a husband," he said.


Dr Fray, who is a surgeon, described as overwhelming, the level of collaboration between all the CRH staff involved and the TLC personnel.


"I have never seen this before, the emotions that were involved, and I am sure in the final analysis the people who received the kidneys are going to be very satisfied," the SMO told JIS News.


He said the implementation of the programme was a great milestone for the CRH, and expressed hope that it would continue and flourish over the years to come.


Dr Fray said the only hurdle to overcome was funding for medication for patients after the operations, and that assistance was being sought from the National Health Fund (NHF).


He emphasised that in the long term, it was less costly to do the transplants than for patients to continue on dialysis.


The surgeon pointed out that on the departure of the TLC team back to the UK, the medical personnel to continue the operations will be available at the CRH.


Representative of the TLC group, Dr Jenny Harrison, said members of the team now refer to the CRH as the world's newest kidney transplant centre.


She told JIS News that in their travels to establish kidney transplant projects, they have never seen one with such broad support, from the ministerial level to the staff of the hospital.


Dr Harrison expressed great appreciation to the staff at the hospital, while giving her group's commitment to continue supporting the programme.


The team's stay in Jamaica was sponsored by Sandals Resorts International.  —JIS


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