“Every year, there are 3,000 new kidney patients who need dialysis, and there just are not enough facilities to manage this demand,” says nephrologist Santosh Gurung. There are more than 1,000 patients in Kathmandu alone who need treatment, and the difficulties they face have multiplied after the lockdown.
Half of the 54 hospitals designated for kidney dialysis are in Kathmandu Valley, and of the total 525 dialysis machines in the country 276 are in the capital. Some of the machines in government hospitals are not working. Of the ten machines at the Seti Provincial Hospital, only five function.
Kidney patients from Karnali Province are now referred to Nepalganj or Kathmandu due to lack of machines. Kathmandu’s hospitals have to not just treat patients from the Valley, but many from west Nepal.
Once a patient’s kidneys stop working there are only two options: a kidney transplant like the ones performed on Prime Minister K P Oli, or dialysis twice a week. It takes four hours to complete dialysis procedure, so the machines can treat only three kidney patients in a day.
This means there is a long queue, and hospitals cannot take on any additional patients because the machines are ‘booked’. In fact, a wait-listed patient gets a slot for dialysis only if the hospital arranges for additional machines, a patient gets a kidney transplant, or dies.
Transplanting love, Shreejana Shrestha