Dialysis is crucial for kidney patients awaiting organ donors, says specialist

Kidney transplantation is the best treatment but due to the scarcity of organ donors, majority of patients find themselves on a waiting list.

14 Mar 2024 12:44pm
Photo for illustration purposes. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes. - 123RF

IPOH - Several years ago, a tuition teacher began experiencing frequent headaches and shortness of breath, which were among the initial symptoms preceding her diagnosis of stage four kidney disease.

V. Thilaga, 46, who lives in Chemor, recalled that initial examinations at a clinic revealed normal conditions, however, further tests prompted by persistent pain, even during menstruation, led to the diagnosis of the disease in Jan 2021.

"I was initially in disbelief upon receiving the diagnosis and reluctant to undergo dialysis to cleanse my kidneys.

"However, most of my family members, who are doctors, advised me to do so because my condition was worsening, making breathing difficult, and my kidneys were deteriorating," she told Bernama.

She was interviewed at the Perak Community Specialist Hospital (PCSH) Hemodialysis Centre here yesterday in conjunction with World Kidney Day today, themed 'Kidney Health for All.'

Thilaga's resolve to pursue treatment was fueled by her responsibility towards her seven-year-old daughter and the numerous students who rely on her, emphasising the crucial role of family support in her journey toward recovery, especially her mother's unwavering encouragement.

She stated that she now undergoes dialysis at the hospital three times a week, covered by the Social Security Organisation (Perkeso), and expressed her gratitude to the organisation, which has alleviated her financial burden.

Sharing further, Thilaga mentioned that she also had to control her diet by avoiding foods high in phosphates and potassium.

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She is only allowed to drink about 500 ml of water per day to prevent fluid buildup in her lungs, which could lead to breathing difficulties.

"My 37-year-old younger brother can donate a kidney, but I refuse because he is still young and unmarried," she said, adding that she is only awaiting her turn to receive a transplant so she can lead a normal life.

Despite living with kidney disease, Thilaga emphasised the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and not succumbing to constant sadness and advised closely following medical advice to live well.

Another patient, Zulkifli Mohammad, 66, a former accounting lecturer at a polytechnic, attributed his kidney damage to his frequent intake of painkillers due to gout, a condition he has been grappling with for the past eight years.

"I also used to indulge in durians and sweet fizzy drinks, but now I can no longer savour any of it. Even my appetite has diminished," he said.

A father of three residing in Pekan Razaki, he lamented his inability to engage actively in badminton following his kidney damage. He now undergoes dialysis three times a week at the hospital, covered by the Public Service Department.

Neurology and Medicine Specialist, Dr. Ng Yong Muh, underscored the importance of regular health check-ups, particularly through urine tests, for individuals at risk, such as those with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or a family history of kidney disease, to detect the condition at an early stage.

"Patients typically do not exhibit symptoms in the early stages. If they do, they may experience signs such as swollen feet, foamy, or blood in the urine. Early detection would enable them to control the cause of the disease so that the kidneys do not deteriorate to a critical stage, which would require them to undergo dialysis.

"If patients experience shortness of breath and bodily fatigue, it means they have reached a critical stage because the kidneys have failed to function in cleansing toxins from the body," he explained.

He highlighted kidney transplantation as the best treatment for kidney patients, but due to the scarcity of organ donors, the majority find themselves on a waiting list.

As a consequence, around 80 patients currently undergo daily home peritoneal dialysis and blood dialysis at PCSH two to three times a week.

According to him, most critical kidney damage patients at the hospital are aged 60 and above, often due to diabetes and hypertension.

"There are many more patients than kidney donors. So they have to undergo dialysis to maintain their health while waiting for organ transplantation. Without this interim treatment, the body's ability to function deteriorates, leading to elevated toxin levels and respiratory difficulties, ultimately shortening lifespan," he said. - BERNAMA

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