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Three persons to get new kidneys this weekend

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Team members of Transplant Links Community (TLC) and kidney recipients: From left to right – Paul Cockwell, consultant surgeon; Wayne Bernard, kidney transplant recipient; Jenny Jewitt-Harris, chief executive of TLC; Ricardo White, kidney transplant recipient; and Amy Jewitt-Harris, of TLC.

Western Bureau:

As the local health authorities continue to seek out creative ways to bring help to persons battling chronic kidney disease, three persons are poised to get new kidneys this weekend via transplants at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay.

On Monday, the Western Regional Health Authorities (WRHA) revealed that a team from the United Kingdom-based Transplants Links Community (TLC) had arrived in Jamaica to carry out the transplants alongside Dr Curtis Yeates and his colleagues at the CRH. The full medical team (locals and visitors) met with the persons awaiting the transplants and their families on Monday.

"Jamaica has a problem with kidney failure because of a lot of high blood pressure and diabetes, which are common causes. People don't look after their kidneys," said Jenny Jewitt-Harris, the executive director of TLC. "You have to look after your blood pressure, get it checked, and keep those calories down."

The TLC team, which comprises two kidney specialists and two support persons alongside Jewitt-Harris, is on its third mission to CRH since its inaugural visit to the hospital in 2013.

According to Hewitt-Harris, for persons suffering from chronic kidney disease, life on a dialysis machine can be avoided if the affected person could get a new kidney.

"Dialysis is miserable, not much fun at all," said Jewitt-Harris. "So if you can have a kidney from a relative, you've got the chance of a normal life again. It's a much better quality of life and is cheaper, as well, than being on dialysis, so everyone benefits."




Ricardo White and Wayne Bernard, who both got new kidneys via transplants done during TLC's 2013 mission, are today living proof of the success of the partnership.

"I'm feeling brilliant; I never feel so in my life yet. I'm living a normal life again, not feeling sick, no wheezing, life is at 100 per cent," said White, who was present at the hospital on Monday during the briefing for the latest recipients.

Like White, Bernard, who was given a new kidney by a relative, said life with the new organ has been awesome. According to him, "It's a beautiful experience; I can only challenge persons who are on the (dialysis) machine, whether in Kingston or Montego Bay, to really live a type of life in terms of watching their diet so they are able to be a part of the process of transformation."

Dr Malcolm Samuels, consultant surgeon from Trinidad, who is working with the TLC team, is advocating for the development of a kidney transplant programme at CRH.

"There is the need for a transplant programme in Jamaica because you've got so much kidney failures here and because transplantation for many patients is the best and cheapest long-term treatment, which makes real economic sense," said Samuels.