Chronic Kidney Disease affects people of all ages. It is estimated that one in 10 people globally are affected by this condition. World Kidney Day is an international campaign celebrated annually on the second Thursday of March to raise awareness around kidney health. This year the global celebrations will fall on 14 March 2018.
NMCH joins international health and nephrology societies, organisations and foundations in raising awareness of this cause as it celebrates one year since the opening of its paediatric renal unit now one of largest in the country.
NMCH is only the second dedicated children’s hospital in the country and operates as a specialist tertiary referral and quaternary facility offering life-saving interventions to children with complex illnesses including those living with renal failure.
Dialysis is a way of cleaning blood when the kidneys can no longer perform this function. It rids the body of toxins, extra salt and water and helps to control blood pressure.
Our renal unit cares for around 19% of all the children on dialysis across South Africa including Gauteng, Limpopo and the surrounding provinces. This equates to 40% of all state paediatric patients on dialysis in our drainage area.
CEO of NMCH, Dr Mandisa Maholwana says that in only a year, the unit has already made a significant difference in the lives of its patients. “Often times I think we forget that CKD affects children as well and dialysis is a critical life-long treatment that keeps children with renal failure alive until they receive kidney transplants. It was therefore important for our hospital to establish this Centre of Excellence.”
The unit adopts a holistic approach to dialysis and uses both peritoneal and haemodialysis to provide treatment to children with renal failure, be it from congenital or acquired causes of kidney disease.
Head of the Renal Unit, Dr Cecil Levy says, “These patients are our most regular visitors at NMCH, with just over half of our group of patients receiving treatment as much as three times a week: That is approximately 122 days spent at NMCH in a year.”
The renal unit opened in March 2018 when it treated its first patient Lungisani (who is now fourteen years of age) and is supported by the NMCH general paediatric surgical team. The Renal team also runs an outpatient service which is situated in the renal unit.
Lungisani says, “Dialysis is something where you will feel like you are a king because everyone is taking care of you, they are giving me nice things, everything that I need in my life. Thank you dialysis.”
Because most of these young patients spend a significant amount of time at NMCH receiving treatment, NMCH works with teachers from Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital’s Johannesburg Hospital School who visit the hospital to ensure that the children do not miss out on their education while they are being treated.
Volunteers at NMCH also play a critical role in assisting the children with their homework and any other needs that they may have.
The hospital also works with charities such as Marang House who are essential partners that NMCH has collaborated with to ensure that patients in the unit receive the best care possible. Marang House is a home in Johannesburg that provides accommodation for children living with chronic illnesses whose parents can’t afford medical care and supervision. Marang House provides a suitable environment for these children, including our dialysis patients, to meet their unique health needs.
The renal unit works with a multi-disciplinary team that includes specialised nursing staff, Allied Health Services at NMCH, and quite critically the dieticians who monitor the patients’ diets.
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