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Renal patients to form association

renalTsitsi Matope

MASERU — Kidney patients are meeting in Maseru next week Saturday to discuss the establishment of an association that would represent their concerns. In an interview yesterday, Hlalele Ramangoaela, a Metropolitan employee and also a renal patient advocating for the formulation of an association, said there is need for patients to speak with one voice.

He said scores of patients were concerned about high renal treatment costs, unavailability of haemodialysis services for chronic renal patients and lack of laws that support organ donation and transplant.  “I have made efforts last year to persuade a private renal unit that provides haemodialysis to open a branch in Lesotho but it was not easy. The process got stuck somewhere at the Ministry of Health,” Ramangoela said.

He explained it was unfortunate that despite the difficulties renal patients faced, there have not been efforts to form an association that would lobby for government support. “The support we need is to have a haemodialysis unit set-up in Lesotho because it is difficult to travel to Bloemfontein in South Africa three times every week for a four-hour dialysis treatment to each day.”

During the four-hour hemodialysis treatment, a machine removes blood from the body and filters it through a man-made membrane called a dialyser, or artificial kidney, to clean out toxins that your kidneys can no longer remove.

 The filtered blood is then returned to the body. Only a small amount of blood (less than two cups) is outside of the body at any time.

However, Ramangoaela said owing to the lengthy treatment process, some patients have over the years lost their jobs. Apart from challenges of regular travelling to South Africa, he said there was need to have in place an association that would lobby government to subsidise haemodialysis treatment.

“It is not easy for us to pay M4 000 for dialysis every week and another M5 000 for monthly tests of blood quality and medication to improve production. What is scary is that renal patients cannot afford not to undergo these treatments as this would mean death. Without any form of support, some patients have over the years given up and died.”

On the other hand, he added that despite options for kidney transplant, the only surgical process that can bring down the costs of treatment, local patients are unable to explore that option due to lack of supporting legislation that can allow organ donation and transplant.

“We have patients with compatible donors. The only challenge is lack of legislation and facilities to do it locally. The process is cumbersome and costly, if you want the transplant surgery to be performed in South Africa,” he said.

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