A kidney transplant specialist is concerned that even though the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is under severe pressure managing a growing number of dialysis patients, Barbadians are not so willing to donate their kidneys.
Dr Margaret O’Shea said that while several kidney transplants have taken place at the QEH over the years, the willingness to donate kidneys was yet to reach a higher level.
“And how do we fix that again? It’s an investment. We have to be there when they get on to dialysis. Somebody has to be there encouraging the families to donate. Too often people don’t want to ask and therefore they end up on dialysis and everything goes in a relaxed state. They are alive.
“But we need more encouragement for families to donate. This is a different issue in Barbados, culturally people don’t seem to even want to donate blood sometimes, but they do donate for their family and I think that is where we have to target,” she said.
Making her contribution to the QEH Virtual round table discussion on Addressing Renal Disease in Barbados: The Path Forward, Dr O’Shea said a national transplant unit is needed, similar to Trinidad’s, in order to prevent more patients from going on dialysis.
The physician said kidney transplant was a long-term cost effective alternative to dialysis which she said shortens a patient’s life span.
But, she said while legislation for a deceased donor programme was pending, more finance and resources must be pumped into the living donor programme.
Dr O’Shea stressed that studies have proven that transplantation was the best form of renal replacement therapy, leading to patients living longer and better lives than if they are on dialysis.
She added that while there are talks regarding the need to improve screening for kidney disease in persons who have diabetes and hypertension, there are patients on dialysis that do not have any of the two health complications.
“There will always be a need for transplantation even with the hope that we can reverse the escalating obesity, hypertension, that is occurring,” she said. (AH)