February 19, 2019

Kim Kennedy: Making a difference to dialysis patients

Kim Kennedy is a former Broadmeadows Hospital dialysis patient using her own experience to help others.

She first connected with Northern Health in 2011, having end stage renal failure, and started peritoneal dialysis in 2013 until she converted to haemodialysis in 2016.

The diagnosis of kidney failure came as a shock to Kim, who had never been in hospital apart from having her children.

“I remember I was outside one day and for some reason my ankles felt really funny, which I thought was strange because you’re not really meant to feel anything there. I looked down and they were huge! I pressed them in – usually you get that white and then it goes, but that didn’t happen – it was a dint that didn’t bounce back. Everything started from there,” she says.

Cheryl Rofe, BHS-CHS Nurse Unit Manager, says kidney failure is a quiet disease that tends to sneak up on people, because symptoms are usually mistaken for something else.

“People just think I’m tired because I’m getting old, I’ve put on weight, that’s why I’ve got fatty ankles, I’ve become breathless because I’m unfit – they don’t realise these are the symptoms of kidney failure,” she says.

“You have to lose 95% of your kidney function before any symptoms begin.”

Kim was on the transplant waiting list for a new kidney for four years, finally receiving her transplant in June 2016.

When Kim received her kidney transplant, she wanted to make difference to other dialysis patients by doing some fundraising for the unit, and also wanted to raise awareness about this disease within the community.

“I wanted to help the patients somehow through my own experience and give back,” Kim says.

“There’s not much awareness about kidney failure and kidney patients within our community. I wanted to do something to change this and support patients going through what I went through.”

With assistance from Priscila Angeles, IDU – TNH Satellite Nurse Unit Manager, and dialysis unit staff, Kim got in contact with the Northern Health Foundation, who, alongside a close friend of Kim’s, organised a Nephrology Dinner Dance to raise funds for the dialysis unit.

The event was a success and supported the purchase of a new treatment chair (pictured below), helping future dialysis patients to feel more comfortable and reduce pressure areas.

For more information about kidney health and symptoms to watch out for, please visit Kidney Health Australia.

Priscila Angeles and dialysis patient, Luchie Kimmer, on the new dialysis chair.