At this hour a symposium entitled “Empowering the kidneys through healthy lifestyle” is underway. The event is organized by the Kidney Association of Belize and will feature a number of presentations. Over the last two days, a number of clinics were held at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for patients with kidney failure. Today we stopped by and spoke with visiting nephrologist, Dr. Shazia Khan from Atlanta, Georgia USA. Dr. Khan said kidney failure is prevalent in Belize and it is common amongst persons who have diabetes or high blood pressure.
Dr. Shazia Khan, Nephrologist
“Unfortunately some of these patients that I am seeing they have severe kidney failure like they are not even aware of having kidney disease and they have this blood work down and labs and they are being told that they need to go on dialysis. My impression talking to people and kidney foundation of Belize is that it is almost an epidemic in this country the chronic kidney disease. People are not aware of it and they are finding out in the late stages and unfortunately there is not a whole lot of help here because haemodialysis- there are a couple types of dialysis peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis that you have to come to a clinic three days a week and get your blood cleaned and there is another one that you can do at your home and you need to be trained for it and its called peritoneal dialysis and apparently there is not a whole lot of peritoneal dialysis available here today. Majority of people do hemodialysis which is very expensive and you have to pay for it every treatment.”
Dr. Khan said that kidney disease has no symptoms; therefore, it is best that persons get tested for it on a regular basis. She stated that while most patients opt for hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis is far cheaper and patients can do it at home.
Dr. Shazia Khan, Nephrologist
“There is a membrane underneath the lining of our skin in the abdominal area that is called the peritoneum and it works as a filter in our body so what a surgeon puts a catheter that goes into that area and actually if you have a shirt on top of it nobody even knows that you have a – people have strange images of things hanging out but that is not the case. Basically you are trained to put fluid in that abdominal cavity through a bag that hooks to the catheter and you put it in there, it sits in there for four hours and then you unplug yourself and drain the fluid out. And what that fluid does is basically it pulls out the waste and toxins from your body and you are draining it out and taking it out and that is basically replacing your kidney function, taking away the waste and the fluid that your body cannot eliminate because your kidneys are not working and that is called peritoneal dialysis and that is cheaper. You can get trained and do it in your own home, it also gives you the luxury of in the states people work with it and you can also have a more liberal diet on it because on hemodialysis which you go to the clinic the diet is very restricted. The diet is a little better when you do peritoneal dialysis also you are not getting stuck with needles in your arm.”
This evening’s symposium which is taking place at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall will also feature a presentation by another nephrologist, Dr. Ronald Hyde. Tomorrow will be the final day of clinics at the KHMH.