Renal patients urged to be responsible to avoid complications
Nurse Michelle-Ann Blake-Rodney (centre) speaking to patients on World Kidney Day at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

PEOPLE who need care related to renal challenges are being urged to do what is recommended by health-care professionals in a bid to not worsen the issues they face.

The plea was made on Thursday by Michelle-Ann Blake-Rodney, a certified nephrology nurse at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

Thursday was designated World Kidney Day, and Blake-Rodney used the opportunity to call on Jamaicans facing renal challenges to be responsible with their actions in relation to their health.

"They have their responsibilities when they go home. When they come here we are removing fluid, we are removing toxins, and so when they go home they have to remember to not exceed the fluid amounts recommended, among other things," said Blake-Rodney.

"When they exceed the fluid amounts they are unable to clear the excess amount through urination and [so] it backs up on them, leading to swollen parts of the body because of what they drinking," added Blake-Rodney.

She noted that the renal department at Cornwall Regional Hospital currently provides dialysis care for some 50 to 55 patients each day but that this is still not enough, and so people need to realise that they have a very important role to play in protecting their own interests.

"Sometimes the time that we give on the machine is not always enough to remove everything and so when they go back they have a responsibility to control what they drink, what they eat," explained Blake-Rodney.

She lamented that some individuals, despite knowing the consequences of their actions, still act contrary to the recommendations. She warned that when they do this it will have a negative impact.

"We try to give them tips: Yes, the time is hot now but instead of drinking so much, eat some ice. Freeze the things that you have so at least you know the water content is not so much but at least you're still taking in fluid," she explained.

"We try to tell them watch the foods that are high in potassium — the banana, the coconut water. Sometimes, unfortunately, they die, not because of renal failure but because of their diet," Blake-Rodney added.

Medication is also a big part of the responsibility for people facing renal challenges and Blake-Rodney argued that they need to ensure they follow the requirements to protect their well-being.

"I know that it is hard but they have to remember: We can do so much and no more with what we have, such as the machines," highlighted Blake-Rodney.

The Cornwall Regional Hospital is the only facility in the western end of Jamaica that provides renal care at no cost to patients, and Blake-Rodney pointed out that the facility now has more than 100 patients being treated but the waiting list is more than that, with just under 500 people waiting to get access to those facilities.

She, however, explained that the facility works as best as possible to accommodate different patients, especially those with emergency issues, with some coming from outside the region as well.

Dialysis is a treatment that helps the body remove extra fluid and waste products from the blood when the kidneys are not able to.

Blake-Rodney noted that the medical team at the hospital has been working to educate patients as part of the programme. On Thursday patients were treated to a lecture on renal osteodystrophy (a complication of chronic kidney disease that weakens bones), and the steps they can take to address it.

Today there will be a blood drive in Sam Sharpe Square, St James, as the hospital moves to increase its supply of blood, which is sometimes used to treat people with renal issues.

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