Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, and Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Dexter James, in discussion during the conference. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)??

Renal disease is on the rise in Barbados, and this has resulted in an increase in the number of patients seeking dialysis treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

This revelation was made today by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, who noted that given the country’s limited haemodialysis facilities and resources, transplantation must be seen as a viable option.

She made the comments at the start of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s two-day conference on transplantation entitled: Live and Cadaveric Transplantation – Truths and Myths, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

Senator Sandiford-Garner told those gathered in the Frangipani Room of the LESC, who included experts on kidney transplantation from Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Australia and the United States, that the current dialysis programme at the QEH could not be sustained without renal transplants because of the growing number of people with end stage renal disease.

While the hospital presently conducts live donor transplants, she said the programme there could be expanded to include cadaveric transplants, once the necessary policy and legislative frameworks were in place.

However, the Senator cautioned that, there would also need to be support and ???buy-in’ from the Barbadian populace.??

"Barbadians must be exposed to, understand and embrace the concepts of organ transplantation which assists those in need, while addressing a public health and economic concern.

"Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure, with 10-20 per cent of persons with diabetes worldwide dying of kidney failure. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 80 per cent of deaths related to diabetes occur in low and middle-income countries, and it has been projected that diabetic deaths will double between 2005 and 2030.??

"Consider this, around 40 per cent of the 220 patients currently receiving dialysis treatment in Barbados are less than 40 years of age, and that, based on current trends, suggests that the total number of dialysis patients will increase to 400 by 2020. A transplantation programme must therefore be implemented," Senator Sandiford-Garner emphasised.

She lauded the QEH’s Board of Management for seeking to implement a comprehensive programme which entails the continuation of dialysis treatments; and the expansion of peritoneal (home) dialysis and organ transplantation.

Kidney transplantation, she explained, was a cost-effective intervention when compared to long-term haemodialysis in the treatment of end stage renal disease. It also enhanced the quality of life of the patient, she noted.

Senator Sandiford-Garner disclosed that as many as 20 per cent of patients currently on dialysis at the QEH could benefit from kidney transplants.

"Our medical laboratory capacity must be augmented to perform tissue and histo-compatibility typing to facilitate a sound transplant programme. I am convinced that we have the technical, surgical and medical expertise required to expand our fledgling transplant programme, and we can improve capacity where needed. Considering the economic need for better medical management of persons of renal disease in Barbados, I sincerely hope that this conference is a success," she said.

The conference continues tomorrow with a public lecture at the LESC at 7:00 p.m., featuring two presentations – one on The Australian Experience by Aimee Cunningham, manager of Transplant Services at Queensland Health in Australia.

The other topic will examine The Seven Ethical Issues of Organ Donation and will be presented by Professor Andrew Flescher, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York and co-ordinator of the Masters Programme in Compassionate Care, Bio-ethics and Medical Humanities.


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