Shining a light on Kidney Disease in Australia

19 May 2023
The Wesley Hospital staff members smiling at camera

Twenty-three years ago, Desmond a healthy man in his thirties was suffering from kidney disease but had no idea as he had no pain nor did he feel unwell.

A routine trip to the doctor showed that his creatinine levels which should be sitting between 60-110 were over 1000 and his blood pressure was on par with someone having a stroke.

Desmond was hospitalised overnight and told he urgently needed a kidney transplant, fortunately his wife was a perfect match and he was able to receive a lifesaving new kidney.

“Unfortunately, a transplanted organ does not last forever, they are usually only good for about 20 years, mine lasted 22,” Desmond said.

Today, 55-year-old nurse needs dialysis three times a week and has joined the 1,800 Australian’s on the waitlist for an organ transplant.

“I remain positive, the dialysis keeps me going and you never know what treatments or medical breakthroughs may be around the corner,” Desmond said.

Clinical Nurse Manager of the Haemodialysis Unit at The Wesley Hospital, David Rodrigues said the impact of kidney disease is far more serious than people realise.

“Currently 1 in 3 Australians are at risk of kidney disease and 1.8 million Australian’s are living with chronic Kidney Disease who don’t know they are unwell,” David said.

“Kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and can't filter blood the way they should, kidney disease accounts for 1 in 6 hospitalisations in Australia.

“Risk factors can include those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, family history of kidney disease, previous kidney injury and people who smoke.”

David explains that signs of kidney disease can be vague and hard to spot and therefore recommends people have their kidney function checked during routine blood tests.

“I have seen many patients who had no idea they had kidney disease and they stumbled on their diagnosis per chance,” David said.

Back in 2013 a routine blood test showed Mark his creatinine levels were increasing, he was referred to a Nephrologist for monitoring.

Five years’ later his creatinine began increasing showing his kidney disease was increasing at a rapid rate, Mark was put on dialysis and the organ transplant list.

“I did receive a kidney in August of 2020, I remember I was with my wife at a bakery and got the phone call at 11am,” Mark said. “By 1pm I was in hospital being prepped for surgery.”

Unfortunately, for Mark the kidney was not a good match and his body began to reject it, despite the fact he was on anti-rejection treatment.

Today 65-year-old Mark is on dialysis three times a week and has been placed back on the transplant list yet remains positive about his situation.

“I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening and travelling, however I do need to be able to return to Brisbane at short notice should I get a call that an organ has become available,” Mark said.

“I have incorporated dialysis into my everyday life and even been able to book myself in other hospitals such as Nambour on the Sunshine Coast or Alice Springs while on holidays.

“The advice I would give to someone who had just started dialysis would be to take care of yourself, however on the days I am not on dialysis I do enjoy a good cup of coffee, that’s my treat.”

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