Kuala Lumpur, March 9: This year’s World Kidney Day which falls this Sunday and themed ‘Kidney Health for All’ puts forth a global call for people to not only be aware of kidney disease, but to actively know what their own kidney health measures are. The 2022 campaign focuses on efforts to increase education and awareness about kidney health and on reducing the high chronic kidney disease (CKD) knowledge gap at all levels of kidney care. Understanding the need for this, Sunway Medical Centre in Sunway City, Malaysia is increasing their advocacy toward raising awareness and finding comprehensive solutions for patients to lead healthy and fulfilling lives, most notably through living-kidney transplants.
Finding the life-saving puzzle piece
Sunway Medical Centre Consultant Nephrologist Dr Rosnawati Yahya, who is a leading specialist for kidney transplants in Malaysia, states that typically kidney transplant patients have the ability to live longer with a much better quality of life when compared to patients who opt for dialysis treatment.
“Patients who are on haemodialysis usually need to go for their sessions around three times a week and use up nearly four hours of their time just to receive the treatment. This process is both tiring and costly,” she said.
To better understand the actual process of undergoing a kidney transplant, Dr Rosnawati said that finding a healthy kidney is usually a family affair.
“When we broach the subject of looking for suitable donors, we will first seek out the patient’s parents or siblings, as more often than not, they will be the best match. If that is not accessible, we look toward their extended family.
“If we still can’t find anyone suitable from the immediate family, we try to reach out to in-laws, spouses, or even grandparents,” she elaborates.
The preparation begins when Dr Rosnawati receives a referral for a new patient in need, in which she then arranges a meeting with both the donor and the patient.
“I will usually take the patient and donor through a very detailed session, in which I discuss the benefits of a kidney transplant over dialysis, while also taking them through the potential risks of the procedure.
“Once both the donor and patient understand and agree to proceed, the donor will then undergo a thorough evaluation process.
This includes a thorough assessment of medical history, blood and urine tests, cardiac and radiological investigation to determine the donor’s health risks so that we can be better prepared to mitigate any potential risks of kidney failure in future.”
Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City (SMC) Senior Staff Nurse and Transplant Coordinator Jenny Chong reiterates that providing comprehensive early counselling and testing is vital to ensuring the rest of the process goes smoothly.
“Once we confirm with the transplant physician that the donor does not have any contra indication, my role as transplant coordinator takes over,” Chong said.
“I will proceed to coordinate various tests to record aspects of the patient’s health such as blood results, radiology reports, and special diagnostic reports and update the physician at each stage of evaluation.
The physician will decide whether the transplant process can be moved on to the next stage.”
After the transplant has taken place with no further complications, it takes about six weeks for both donor and recipient to return to living their lives as they normally would.
“Donors are usually discharged three to five days after surgery to recuperate at home.
“They then return for a follow-up visit two weeks later to check on their recovery progress.
“As for the recipient, we require them to stay in the hospital for at least a week to be monitored closely. In the best-case scenario, dialysis can be stopped immediately if the transplanted kidney is working well,” Dr Rosnawati said.
“It is important to remember that after a kidney is donated, the kidney’s functions will be reduced by half since both the donor and the patient no longer have two kidneys.”
Recovering a new zest for life
For people like Chong and Dr Rosnawati, who work hard to ensure the success of each transplant, the best part of the job is being able to see someone who was sick have their quality of life restored.
“I’ve seen children return to school, dialysis patients who were difficult to deal with become cheerful, happier and more approachable. I’ve also heard of patients who got married and now have children of their own,” Chong said.
“This is truly the favourite part of my career, it has made me even more passionate about giving patients the information they need so they have the knowledge to take ownership over their health.”
“What’s important to us as primary care physicians, is to keep improving our management of patients with CKD across its entire spectrum from prevention and early detection, to its secondary and tertiary prevention and kidney failure care,” Dr Rosnawati said.
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