The Renal Unit at the Western Isles Hospital recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary since opening in May 2007.
To mark this special occasion, patients, friends and family members gathered together at a buffet lunch, joined by Mr. Neil Galbraith, NHS Western Isles Chairman, and Mr. Gordon Jamieson, NHS Western Isles Chief Executive.
Those attending cheered as 89 year old Mr. Donald Macdonald from Timsgarry, Uig, the last of the "frequent flyers", cut the specially-made birthday cake, ably assisted by nurses Cathie Matheson and Rebekah Macleod, who along with Mrs. Alice French, Unit Manager, who was unfortunately unable to attend the event, have been with the unit since its inception.
Angus 'Texie' MacLeod, Chairman of Western Isles Kidney Patient Association (WIKPA), said: "It is hard to believe that it is 10 years since the Renal Unit providing haemo-dialysis was opened at Western Isles Hospital. Before that, patients from Lewis and Harris who required dialysis had to fly to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness as they needed to be on haemo-dialysis three days a week(Monday, Wednesday and Friday). This meant they had to stay away from home all week, only getting back at the weekend, weather permitting.”
WIKPA was formed in 2001 by renal patients, their relatives and friends to provide much needed assistance and support for kidney patients and their families throughout the Western Isles. The charity provides a wider range of support for kidney patients and their families, including the purchase of equipment, help with travel costs, winter fuel grants and equipment for the renal unit. The group has also recently formed a support group in the hall of St. Columba’s (Old Parish) Church, Lewis Street, Stornoway, which is held every Thursday afternoon from 2pm–4pm.
Angus added, "On the day the Renal Unit opened, six haemo-dialyisis stations were in place. Each station consists of a complete haemo-dialysis machine plus a specially designed chair: four provided by NHS Western Isles, one by the Hebridean Kidney Trust and the other by the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association (WIKPA).
Mr Gordon Jamieson, NHSWI Chief Executive, said "This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Renal Unit which has made a dramatic improvement to the service that NHS Western Isles provides to local patients requiring renal dialysis, bringing an end to the previous arrangement where local patients had to travel to the mainland for treatment. Our excellent, skilled team work extremely hard to help patients attending the Renal Unit have a positive experience during their treatment.
“The Renal Unit continues to develop to provide service improvements and enhancements; and also offers dialysis to a higher number of patients, as well as holiday dialysis for people who want to visit the islands.”