Defeating renal failure with a New Wave - Jamaican business operators give lifeline to kidney disease patients
A year ago, Allan Vanriel, a diabetic, was diagnosed with hypertension, which affected his heart.
Soon after, a blood test revealed he also had kidney disease, forcing him to become completely dependent on dialysis.
The freelance videographer said his entire life changed within 48 hours of complaining of a pain in his head.
“I was on my way home from work when I felt a pain in my head, so I went to the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital. That night turned into six months of hospitalisation,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.
The disruption in the life of the father of two was unimaginable. He was placed on dialysis twice per week at $12,000 per session, plus $4,500 for an injection which kept him alive. Hypertensive medication, general upkeep plus other bills had not even come into play.
Needing an average of $100,000 per month for treatment of the life-threatening disease, Vanriel has had to call on friends and the companies that use his video service to survive.
Two weeks ago, another lifeline was thrown his way when Montego Bay’s newest kid on the block, New Wave Dialysis, partnered with the Negril Tactical Shooting Range to stage a fundraiser which attracted members of the Jamaica Rifle Association, and other shooters from across the island at a benefit match.
“We have always tried to do something like this before, getting everybody on board, but never succeeded because of distance,” Christine Green, operator of the range, stated.
Pulling on the support of Douglas Arnold of Tents and Events, Green said she has always had a soft spot for anyone with kidney disease, owing to the fact that her father died from the ailment.
While Green had shooting teams competing on behalf of Vanriel, New Wave Dialysis had a group of experts on hand, providing blood pressure and sugar tests for free to the men in attendance, who are vulnerable to lifestyle diseases.
“The men who shoot decided that based on what was happening, they would come out,” said Green.
Florida-based dental technologist, Richard Demetrius, who operates New Wave on Orange Street in Montego Bay, St James, said he noticed a severe lack of renal services on the island for the approximately 500 in every 100,000 Jamaicans who are afflicted with some type of kidney ailment and are often on waiting lists with several facilities before receiving renal care.
“I am offering high-quality medical and renal care, while also bridging the gap between Jamaicans with a kidney ailment and their easy access to medical services,” is the commitment coming from the St Elizabeth-born businessman.
Alleviating Financial Burdens
According to him, his dialysis centre also aims to alleviate financial burdens often associated with renal care, “in which the Jamaican working class accounts for more than 50 per cent of existing renal ailments. We will host quarterly fundraising social events, with proceeds benefiting renal patients who find medical services to be prohibitive”.
Assuring kidney patients that they will receive high-quality medical and renal care, Demetrius has appointed Dr Adedamola Soyibo to lead renal services and Dr Anthony Hall to lead primary care services.
His philanthropic efforts were inspired by a cousin whom he watched suffer with the disease.
“I want to give back, and can afford to give better care,” said Demetrius.
Vanriel is his first sponsored renal project after opening the modern first-class first-world facility in June 2020.
“He needs treatment three times per week, at a cost of close to $100,000 per month. How many people earning $100,000 per month?” he asked.
He said if Vanriel does not get the dialysis treatment, he would die within weeks.
“The only time you come off the machine is if you are lucky to get a transplant,” Demetrius cautioned, adding that a balanced diet and regular exercise, as well as preventing high blood pressure and diabetes, were critical in halting the onset of the disease.
Demetrius said he firmly believes in, and is committed to, providing easy access and superior renal care through the experience, knowledge, integrity, and honesty of his doctors and staff, regardless of a patient’s financial status.