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Celebrating 50 years of helping kidney patients

This article is more than four years old.

Together, Oxford University Hospitals and charity Six Counties Kidney Patients Association (SCKPA) are celebrating 50 years of working together to help kidney patients at the Churchill Hospital.

SCKPA offers support to patients at the Oxford Kidney Unit, whether they are pre-dialysis, on dialysis, or had a transplant, as well as to patients who receive treatment in any one of the five network renal units in other counties.

The Trust has worked with the SCKPA for half a century to provide the best level of care to thousands of people who suffered from kidney disease or renal insufficiency.

The Oxford Kidney Unit, which celebrated its golden anniversary in 2017, provides leading inpatient and outpatient care, with treatment ranging from diagnosis and management of kidney disease to the provision of dialysis therapies.

It has one of the largest transplant programmes in Europe - performing kidney transplants, kidney and pancreas transplants, islets transplants and bowel transplants.

Having provided its first dialysis in 1967, the Trust's Kidney Unit now runs approximately 70,000 haemodialysis sessions a year, and runs 23,000 outpatient appointments across its network of renal units.

The SCKPA advises patients what life is like on dialysis, how to cope with liquid restrictions, dietary tips and dealing practically with life with kidney disease.

It also advises and supports patients who are on the transplant waiting list or who have undergone kidney transplants.

Allie Thornley, Matron and Clinical Lead for Renal Medicine at the Trust, said: "Our partnership with SCKPA has been invaluable. The need for peer support cannot be underestimated.

"As healthcare professionals, we do our best to help patients come to terms with the lifelong impact of kidney disease and its treatments, but only another patient or relative will be able to truly understand what it is like to live with. 

"Equally, SCKPA's fundraising has helped with much-needed equipment, fitted out satellite units with televisions, as well as offering grants to patients in need.

"An initiative that is most highly praised by patients is the therapists who, funded by the SCKPA, attend the dialysis areas and provide foot and hand massages, manicures and scalp massages."

SCKPA is run by, and for, kidney patients, providing support and information either at home or in hospital. It also raises funds for the Oxford Kidney Unit and its satellites through subscriptions and other donations.

One of the thousands of patients to benefit from the help of SCKPA after receiving care at the Churchill is its former Vice-Chair and Chairman, Martin Wood.

He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1999, and was told in 2010 that it had developed to the point that he would soon need to go on dialysis.

He said: "I went to my first SCKPA meeting in the autumn of 2010 with my wife, who has shared the ups and downs and uncertainty of my kidney disease all the way.

"There were kidney patients and their partners at the meeting all very willing to talk through their experiences, keen to pass on tips they had been given, including things they'd found that worked and things that didn't.

"My wife and I learned so much at the meetings we attended, and we made new friends we could call if we had anything to ask - and I still take comfort from the advice of other members.

"That in essence is what the SCKPA is all about, what it was set up to do.

"Fifty years of helping fellow kidney patients and working with the renal units in our area is a remarkable achievement, and we look forward to continuing this work into the next 50 years."

Martin, who is still a Committee member, is able to lead a normal life as he has gone through years of treatment, including prescribed medicine, lots of scans, biopsies and blood tests, and a successful cadaveric kidney transplant in August 2011.

Members of the medical team, and past and present members of SCKPA who have contributed to the long history and success of the Oxford Renal Unit and SCKPA partnership, are being invited to a celebratory lunch at the Double Tree Oxford Belfry Hotel on Sunday 2 June 2019.

Thursday 14 March 2019 was World Kidney Day. It is held every year to raise awareness of the important role the kidneys play, the problem of misdiagnosis in the early stages, and ways to prevent deterioration of kidney function.