Petaling Jaya, September 24: For many kidney failure patients, the diagnosis signals a dramatic upheaval of their lives.
Once an energetic and sociable person, Chew* now spends multiple times a week undergoing treatment at a National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia (NKF) dialysis centre.
Her husband has also quit his job to be her caregiver.
For a couple already living a life of economic hardship in the midst of a raging pandemic, this has been an extra blow to their income.
The stark reality is that Chew’s story is not unique.
Like her, more than 40,000 kidney patients currently undergo dialysis across the country.
These patients have to spend four hours a day hooked up to a dialysis machine, three times a week — often for the rest of their lives.
As such, many are unable to lead normal lives and struggle to gain regular employment.
“Malaysia has amongst the highest rates of kidney disease in the world, with over 7000 people diagnosed with kidney failure every year,” NKF Malaysia, chairman Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohamad Zaher.
“While a kidney transplant is often seen as an ideal solution for someone with kidney failure, the limited amount of donor kidneys available means that for most patients, regular dialysis treatment is the only real available option.”
For over 30 years, NKF has safeguarded the welfare of kidney patients by providing subsidised dialysis treatment, psychological support, as well as financial assistance and job placements.
The non-profit also uses its funds to provide specialised dialysis training for healthcare workers, and carry out outreach and awareness-raising programmes on kidney disease.
“Since we started dialysis operations in 1993, we have delivered compassionate and holistic care to over 6,000 patients of all backgrounds across the country.
“Throughout the turbulence of this pandemic, we continue to treat approximately 1,700 people at 28 dialysis centres nationwide,” he said.
“As a non-profit, the majority of our work is reliant on the generosity of our donors.
“Every year, NKF needs to raise approximately RM25 million to subsidise the cost of dialysis treatments for its patients.”
Dr Zaki added that the pandemic has meant that even more dialysis patients are in a vulnerable state, particularly those from lower-income groups.
“Despite our own limited resources, we were still compelled to go above and beyond our usual mandate to address the socio-economic and public health disruptions caused by the pandemic,” he said.
With rampant job loss and limited opportunities for self-employment, NKF in May 2020 pledged a million from its own coffers to offer aid to dialysis patients in need of financial assistance.
NKF also assisted the Ministry of Health (MOH) by donating medical supplies, including surgical gowns, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks.
Being aware of the overwhelming number of patients seeking treatment in government hospitals during the pandemic, NKF loaned 58 haemodialysis machines and six units of the portable reverse osmosis (RO) water system to MOH, to ensure that kidney patients received proper treatment and care.
In addition to this, NKF also took on more patient referrals from public hospitals nationwide, providing treatment to these patients on a complimentary basis.
To donate to NKF, do so here.
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