Mittagong dialysis patient says change is necessary

For the second time in his life, John McFadden needs a new kidney.

Three days a week he drives himself from Mittagong to Campbelltown Hospital for a five hour dialysis session. 

TIME FOR CHANGE: Mittagong's John McFadden setting up a dialysis machine for one of his tri-weekly sessions.

TIME FOR CHANGE: Mittagong's John McFadden setting up a dialysis machine for one of his tri-weekly sessions.

After several poor experiences with patient transport, Mr McFadden made the choice to drive himself to and from his sessions. 

“We would arrive at 11am for a 2pm session which isn’t good enough,” he said. 

“All you can do is sit in the waiting room.”

What makes it all the more difficult for Mr McFadden is the fact he has a broken leg. 

“On the bus you are all cramped up and they wouldn’t stop to let me stretch it out quickly,” he said. 

So, he made the choice to drive himself to and from the hospital every second day. 

It’s a risky choice to make considering dialysis patients’ blood pressure can drop very suddenly and quickly. 

“There have been times where I’ve gotten a call from the hospital asking where I am and I have to let them know I’m pulled over on the side of the road waiting for my blood pressure to come back up,” Mr McFadden said. 

“I keep a portable blood pressure machine in my car so I can keep track and I’m lucky in that I can tell when something isn’t right in my body.”

Mr McFadden received his first kidney transplant 17 years ago and said his life would be very different if there was a dialysis unit at Bowral and District Hospital. 

“Things would be completely different, not just for me, but for everyone who lives in the Highlands and is on dialysis.”

The Southern Highlands Renal Appeal is a group formed years ago to campaign for a renal unit at Bowral and District Hospital. 

The group has raised $800,000 for the creation of a unit but the government still does not have any plans for a renal service in the Southern Highlands. 

SHRA members will meet with state health minister Brad Hazzard on Wednesday to discuss the need for a unit. 

Mr McFadden said he hoped for a positive outcome. “As much as I hope something good comes of the meeting, I want to know why now?”

“Why has it taken this long for such an important discussion to happen? And why haven’t our politicians been trying harder over the last 20 years to get a renal service [in the Highlands].”

Mr McFadden is on the waiting list for another transplant now, but said he would only accept the transplant if it is “the right time.”

“It’s not about being greedy- its about other people getting the chance.”

“There are people who have been waiting 10 or 12 years for a transplant and I’ve got one.

“I’ve had my chance and I want some of these other people to get that second chance.”

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