March 12, 2020

World Kidney Day

Today is World Kidney Day, a global campaign focused on highlighting the importance of kidney health for everyone through better prevention and detection measures.

John Catelmi came to Northern Health in 2015 for a prostate operation and was surprised to hear his kidneys weren’t working. He started seeing our renal service with end stage renal disease. Soon after, he started haemodialysis and then changed to home peritoneal dialysis.

“The doctors gave me a lot of information and supported me through my journey. Northern Hospital has been great – the nurses, the dialysis and renal staff were fantastic. I can’t say thank you enough and I feel good today,” he said.

John was one of many patients who needed a kidney transplant. The procedure was a success and to date he continues to remain off dialysis with the kidney transplant working well.

Dr David Barit, Head of Nephrology, together with his team nephrologists, the chronic kidney disease nurse educators, home dialysis nurses and the renal allied health team including dietetics, social work and pharmacy looked after John.

“Kidney disease is something very common and it happens to one in ten people. There is a number of reasons why people get kidney disease. It’s very fortunate that a lot of diseases that relate to kidney disease are potentially preventable or modifiable, but there are many people that require treatment,” Dr Barit said.

Northern Health’s Nephrology Department sees more than 7,000 patients each year, with 50-70 patients admitted under the kidney service, needing to stay in hospital, and around 600-700 patients with severe kidney disease. Around 150 patients are receiving dialysis in the local area.

“Northern Health is part of the growth area, so we are going to see more individuals present to our hospital with kidney disease, who will require ongoing management over a number of years,” he added.

Kidney disease doesn’t just affect the health of the individual. It also affects other components of a person’s life.

“That is why having a multi-disciplinary service with social work, pharmacy, psychology is very important. We also have nurse educators who help patients understand the treatment process and they provide information and coordinate care,” he added.

To showcase the importance of team work across disciplines, Dr Barit explained the complex process of collaboration between hospitals and departments to ensure the patient receives the best possible care and the matching kidney.

“John received the kidney transplant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. It was through detailed planning, care coordination, organising tests and sending information to Melbourne Health, confirming appointments and tests, confirming that he still remains on the waiting list how the team managed to get the best possible outcome for this patient. This also highlights the importance of the nurse educator’s role,” he added.

“The Northern Health staff have been great and they are still helping me today,” John added.

World Kidney Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

Featured Image (left to right): Patient John Catelmi (front row), Leigh Kisielewski, Transport Coordinator; Catherine Yan, Renal Pharmacist; Ingrid Ryan, Chronic Disease Coordinator; Anthea Elliott, Social Worker; Dr David Barit, Head of Nephrology; Janine Bradbury, Chronic Kidney Disease and Transplant Coordinator.