Mobile dialysis unit opens Kangaroo Island to visitors and ex-locals

MOBILE UNIT: Graham Crawford and Peter Keal undergo dialysis in the truck at the Kangaroo Island Hospital with nurses Lynn Williams and Ling Ling Qian, and KI Health Service executive officer Kath Bald and SA's rural renal nurse consultant Amanda Biddle.
MOBILE UNIT: Graham Crawford and Peter Keal undergo dialysis in the truck at the Kangaroo Island Hospital with nurses Lynn Williams and Ling Ling Qian, and KI Health Service executive officer Kath Bald and SA's rural renal nurse consultant Amanda Biddle.

South Australia's truck-mounted mobile dialysis unit is on Kangaroo Island for two weeks, allowing people to visit that ordinarily could not.

People whose kidneys stop functioning due to diabetes, high blood pressure or other causes, need to have their blood "cleaned" in a dialysis machine three times a week in a process that takes about four hours.

The first two patients received treatment on Monday, November 18, planning their holidays around its arrival.

Retired farmer Graham Crawford lived on Kangaroo Island for 20 years but now lives at Crystal Brook and undergoes dialysis at Port Pirie three times a week.

Having the dialysis unit on KI meant he was able to come over and catch up with old friends.

Peter Keal is from Hillbank and undergoes dialysis at the Gawler hospital. He is holidaying on KI for a week, staying at Emu Bay, seeing all the sights and going fishing.

SA's rural renal nurse consultant Amanda Biddle said the dialysis truck spent winters at the APY Lands and Yalata, but when it became too hot in summer, it returned to its base at Gawler.

Thanks to assistance from the Dorothy E. Brown Trust and SeaLink, paying for wages and transport, the truck was able to visit KI for the first time.

South Australia's truck-mounted mobile dialysis unit parked at the Kangaroo Island Hospital.

South Australia's truck-mounted mobile dialysis unit parked at the Kangaroo Island Hospital.

Ms Biddle also thanked Kath Bald and Daniel Roesler at the hospital, who had done a "phenomenal job" in accommodating the truck, providing parking and water.

The unit will remain parked at the Kangaroo Island Hospital until Saturday, November 30 and hopefully will return next summer.

KI does not have the patient numbers to justify having its own dialysis unit, but less than a handful of residents have home dialysis units.

The two patients, Graham and Peter, said having a proper dialysis unit was vital for those whose kidneys were no longer functioning.

"These really are special people and not just because they are keeping us alive," Graham said. "They are so genuine, caring and always have a smile." - "They would do anything for you."

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