Boost for kidney patients

By Kathryn Powley

Kids to get better facilities at Starship, the only renal centre for them in the country.

Sarah Collins with Maddie, 8. Photo / Michael Craig
Sarah Collins with Maddie, 8. Photo / Michael Craig

Starship hospital's overcrowded and outdated kidney dialysis unit is getting a much-needed revamp.

The room with two beds on the hospital's sixth floor is the only place in the country dedicated to children needing haemodialysis.

Young renal patients travel from throughout the country to spend a few hours at a time hooked up to a machine in the room packed full of machines and monitoring equipment - leaving little space for parents, doctors and nurses.

But plans have just been approved for a bigger purpose-built space for up to four machines with funds raised by non-profit parent-run organisation, Kidney Kids.

Further upgrades of the hospital's entire sixth floor are also due to be announced soon.

For Sarah Collins, mother of 8-year-old kidney patient Maddie, the do-up is an exciting prospect.

"It's very tired. It's very old, it's very impractical. You've got children sharing rooms who shouldn't be sharing rooms. It lacks lots of things such as a meeting room where parents can meet with doctors and have discussions privately. The parents always refer to it as 'the forgotten ward'."

Collins, 40, was full of praise for medical staff but said Maddie's room had peeling paint and curtains that didn't fit.

Maddie, from West Melton in Canterbury, was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome at age 4 which then developed into Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). She lost one kidney and on October 10 doctors transplanted a kidney from her father Adam to replace the second kidney.

Within five hours of the operation the FSGS was back and Maddie needed urgent treatment. She has intravenous immune suppressant drugs for 24 hours a day.

"The team up here have been amazing," said Collins. "They got the kidney working again. We've controlled the disease but it will eventually do the same again," said Collins, who was diagnosed with breast cancer after she was tested to see if her kidney matched Maddie's.

Having spent many days and weeks in Starship, Maddie's opinion of the ward is: "Boring".

Starship medical director Dr Richard Aickin said the Kidney Kids pledge meant a much nicer more expansive area.

It would be plumbed for four dialysis machines, although the two new machines would not be installed immediately.

He said the full cost of the upgraded sixth floor was not finalised.

Kidney Kids acting chief executive officer Keith Mackenzie said kidney disease affected about 1000 children.

"It is absolutely imperative that we keep investing in new equipment."

To follow Maddie's journey, go to:

- Herald on Sunday

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