DISAPPOINTMENT: Nigel Holloway and his mother Flora Moloney explain their frustration with the lack of dialysis availability on the Fraser Coast.
DISAPPOINTMENT: Nigel Holloway and his mother Flora Moloney explain their frustration with the lack of dialysis availability on the Fraser Coast. Fraser Coast Chronicle

Patient to choose – Nambour or die

NIGEL Holloway is facing the biggest decision of his harrowing life.

He can spend 18 hours on the road so he can sit for 15 hours in a chair attached to a dialysis machine every week; or he can succumb to a slow and painful death.

It may sound melodramatic but that is exactly the situation Mr Holloway feels the Fraser Coast’s floundering health system has left him in.

“There’s no way you can put off going on dialysis,” a frustrated Ms Moloney said.

“You’re dead in three weeks.”

If Ms Moloney’s view is correct her son has just one week before his body and mind is in such a weak physical and mental state he will have to muster any strength left to decide whether to accept dialysis treatment at Nambour Hospital.

“I don’t have a future,” were the sorrowful words that came matter-of-factly out of Mr Holloway’s mouth as he told of his dire position.

The 45-year-old cannot get on to Hervey Bay Hospital’s waiting list for dialysis.

Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District Northern Cluster manager Beth Norton said 46 people were being treated for dialysis on the Fraser Coast; up from 40 four months ago.

She said it costs the community about $60,000 a year to keep a person alive on dialysis.

She also said chronic kidney disease was on the rise across Australia, with one in three adults at risk of developing some form of the disease.

The Fraser Coast Health Service was doing a number of things to address this, Ms Norton said, including easing the pressure of Hervey Bay Hospital by providing transport for renal dialysis patients to Gympie Hospital. A full-time nephrologist had also been employed by the service, she explained, as well as extra nursing staff.

For Mr Holloway, however, those words were of no comfort.

“I live in Hervey Bay, I should be able to use Hervey Bay Hospital,” he said.

Instead doctors told him he had to travel three hours south to Nambour Hospital to sit five hours on a dialysis machine and then drive three hours back, three times a week.

“The problem is Hervey Bay Hospital is full of Maryborough people,” he said.

“I believe Maryborough people should get their own dialysis centre. Hervey Bay people are treated second-rate. To me, it’s ridiculous.”

Mr Holloway explained dialysis not only cleaned blood but got rid of excess fluid and put pressure on the heart, leading to constant headaches and head spins.

“It seems to me he has turned his back on everyone,” Mr Holloway said of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The mother and son argued the State Government needed to prioritise health funding to cater for a growing aging population on the Fraser Coast, while the Federal Government should also contribute more dollars.

“There’s got to be funding somewhere but Mr Rudd’s sending it overseas. He should be looking after his own country,” Mr Holloway said.

“We’d just like to see something done about it because it’s not only Nigel that is affected, it’s everyone,” Ms Moloney added.

Mr Holloway has had three kidney transplants, the first of which was when he was just 22 years of age. Seven years before then he was on home dialysis.

That first transplant lasted just two weeks. His second went well for 14 years before it too failed, leading to another eight years of dialysis and then his third transplant. After three-and-a-half-years that kidney failed and now he in his current state.

He cannot get a fourth transplant because he would need an almost perfect match due to the DNA left in his system from the past three.

Dialysis appears his only option.

Ms Norton said the Fraser Coast Health Service was working closely with the Central Renal Network and Fraser Coast Kidney Support Group to look at delivery.

“But the best way to tackle this silent killer head-on is for the community to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Prevention is better than cure.”

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