A new lease on life
Kidney transplant patients praise CRH programme
For 12-and-a-half years Dwayne's life hung in the balance as he relied on frequent haemodialysis to keep his damaged kidneys going. That picture changed a year ago when he became one of the first three beneficiaries of kidney transplants at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James.
Today, Dwayne is still adapting to the kidney his wife gave him, but for him it has been a wonderful experience.
"It has been one that offers a second chance at life and one in which you are able to be free from the dialysis machine," declared Dwayne.
"You are able to achieve more academically, and so it gives you a new sense of drive and purpose," added Dwayne.
Debbie Ann now has only one kidney, having donated the other to her husband Dwayne.
wasn't a hard decision
"It wasn't a hard decision because I love my husband and have seen what he's been through over the many years, 12-and-a-half years, and I really think that he deserved that chance to really live and enjoy life ... and so it wasn't a hard decision; and, furthermore, I believe it is what God wanted me to do," shared Debbie Ann.
Another kidney transplant recipient, Shaneik is beaming. She was on dialysis for about six years. "The experience has been great because before, on dialysis I was extremely tired, especially the day after the transplant. Now, it's a year after and everything is going well. Ever since I did the kidney transplant I have energy and I am able to do just about everything. I got a new lease on life and I expect to live much longer."
Transplants Links Community started in 2005 and has been to six countries so far, Trinidad and Jamaica being the only two Caribbean beneficiaries of their service.
According to team spokesman and consultant nephrologist, Professor Paul Cockwell, the role of Transplant Links Community is to facilitate the development of sustainable transplant programmes in developing countries which don't have any.
"Jamaica is a great example of a country which has a high need for kidney transplantation and has excellent doctors and surgeons and in fact, infrastructure that should allow (it) to develop sustainability in kidney transplantation," said Cockwell.
"You have great surgeons in Jamaica and they are working with the Community surgical team to be trained in transplantation. Then, you have great physicians, such as Dr Curtis Yeates, who are able to manage the patients around and after transplantation," added Cockwell.
So impressed is he with the local surgeons and support staff that Cockwell declared: "I think that there is a very good chance that if the programme continues the way that it has over the last 12 months that in two years you should be at the stage where you will be doing transplants independent of Transplant Links in a physical sense."
The Transplant Links team was back at CRH last week for more surgeries and follow-up discussions with last year's recipients who are being monitored locally.
Supporting the kidney transplantation programme, head of internal medicine at CHR consultant nephrologist, Dr Curtis Yeates, noted the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2008 which states that 25 per cent of the adult population is hypertensive and eight per cent diabetic.
Hypertension and diabetes are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease, resulting in end-stage renal failure. When the kidneys fail to less than 15 per cent, replacement treatment is needed. This can take the form of dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Members of the medical team that carried out kidney transplant operations at the Cornwall Regional Hospital last week. Front (from left) are nurse Gordon Evans, consultant surgeon from Belfast, Ireland; Clare Pattenden; theatre sister Lisabelle Wells; Jennie Jewitt-Harris, chief executive of Transplant Links Community; (back row, from left) Professor Paul Cockwell, consultant nephrologist; Andrew Ready, consultant transplant surgeon; Dr Malcolm Samuel, transplant surgeon from Trinidad; and Dr Curtis Yeates, head of Internal Medicine at CRH, consultant nephrologist.-Photos by Clinton Pickering