Unable to find a donor to facilitate a kidney transplant, patients suffering from renal failure are subjected to undergo dialysis for the rest of their lives, or sadly until their finances are depleted.
This of course is after some of them take advantage of the free sessions of dialysis offered at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC]. After that, they are required to be dialysed elsewhere at a cost. One of the facilities where patients head to for dialysis is the not-for-profit Doobay Medical and Research Centre.
The facility was established back in 2011 offering patients dialysis at a subsidised cost, owing to its collaboration with government. Back then patients paid $9,000 per session which was reportedly way below the cost offered at other facilities.
However, after the strategic collaboration came to an end, the Doobay Centre, founded by Canada based Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Budhendra Doobay, had to jack its price up to $15,000 which was still less than half the cost at some facilities.
Donor support from people the likes of Sattaur and Ameena Gafoor, Mohamed Najab, Rooph Persaud of Ganesh Parts, among others, including Demerara Distillers’ Komal Samaroo, have helped the Centre to return its dialysis cost to $9,000.
The donor support has been particularly important since, according to Dr. Doobay, “We have to subsidise dialysis by US$300,000 per year,” if patients are to continue to benefit from the low cost.
In fact, it is Dr. Doobay’s hope that the facility will one day be able to bring the cost even further down to $5,000. He, however, noted, “We can’t keep begging forever…”
When it first opened its doors, the facility had six dialysis machines and two patients but today has 40 machines and 100 patients being dialysed at least three times weekly.
Dialysis is the process of removing excess water and toxins from the blood of people whose kidneys have become impaired.
Several of the 100 patients accessing the dialysis service are unable to pay but are permitted to access the service offered at no cost. “If we don’t do this they will die,” considered Dr. Doobay as he spoke recently of elaborate plans to make the facility self sufficient so that it could continue to cater to the growing number of dialysis patients.
“Our vision is to continue to help the poor people who need dialysis…right now we are the only one in the country that is offering dialysis for $9,000 per session and yet there are some people who can’t pay at all,” said Dr. Doobay.
Moreover, in order to maintain its humanitarian-driven service, moves are apace to transform the Annandale, East Coast Demerara facility into a Centre of Excellence offering a number of services which will eventually include even heart surgery that could help offset operational cost.
In so doing, Dr. Doobay, a McMaster University alumnus, has been reaching out to colleagues from that institution to lend support. Among those who are already responded favourably are expert Gastrointerologist, Dr. Trevor Seaton, and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Dr. Sonia Anand.
Already, the Canada-based Dr. Seaton has made about four visits to the Centre and has been helping to put needed measures in place, including the training of staffers for an Endoscopy Unit which has already been established.
Meanwhile, to the introduction of its Endoscopy Unit, Dr. Anand was instrumental in conducting research that could help guide, not only the East Coast facility but the health sector, to ward off the scourge of non communicable diseases [NCDs].
According to Dr. Doobay, the McMaster Professor has completed a research among 100 local patients who have risk factors for heart attack, stroke, hypertension and diabetes and her findings are expected to help guide the combative efforts of the local health sector.
“So our focus is not only to practice medicine but we are the only facility here doing this type of research work in collaboration with McMaster University,” Dr. Doobay added.
Since dialysis has and will always be the facility’s number one priority, Dr. Doobay said that there have been talks with the Public Health Minister for support to expand its services to places such as Berbice.
“The Minister of Health has promised to help us out as much as possible as we try to expand to Berbice…It aches my heart to see people coming from some far off parts of Berbice and some of them are barely making it,” said an evidently concerned Dr. Doobay.
As he spoke of the plans to expand, he added, “The Guyanese will benefit, not me; they come from so far and they spend so much money just to get dialysed and we are just trying to help save their lives, so we welcome any support to continue to do this.”
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