JIS News

After undergoing surgery to remove a catheter and replace it with a fistula, both of which facilitate dialysis treatment, Maurice Leighton uttered the words:  “You have given me a bridge to life.”

“This fistula gives more freedom, more movement; to live, to enjoy life and feel like we can make a better contribution to society,” tells JIS News.

An elated Mr. Leighton, who has been living with end stage renal disease since 1999, was a  beneficiary of the much needed vascular surgeries that were conducted during a recent medical mission to Jamaica by the Bridge of Life-DaVita Medical Missions.

Guided by its objectives, the Bridge of Life organised its second mission to Jamaica in an effort to continue the work it had begun last November, when 20 dialysis machines were donated to three hospitals – the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in Kingston; St. Ann’s Bay Hospital, in St. Ann; and the Mandeville Hospital in Manchester.

In Jamaica, individuals who are affected by renal disease are required to receive dialysis at least twice per week through a catheter – an external tube which facilitates the filtration of unwanted material from the body.

The catheter, unfortunately, inhibits the patients and is prone to infection, while the artery vein fistula (AV Fistula) is an internal tube which is expected to improve the patient’s quality of life

Volunteer with the Bridge of Life and Professor of Surgery at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. William Jennings, says that the insertion of fistula in the patient’s arm facilitates dialysis by cannulation or a needle puncture of the vein.                                                                                 

“What this means is that they don’t have a form body catheter going through the skin into the central blood supply, which has the capacity for infection; so people with a fistula live longer, they have fewer hospitalisations, they have fewer complications, and they have much longer safe and reliable vascular access," Dr. Jennings adds.

Mr. Leighton is not the only Jamaican who has benefitted from the medical intervention, as some 100 other Jamaicans, located at all three hospitals, also did the vascular surgery.

Executive Director of Bridge of Life, Lori Vaclavik, notes that the mission was organised in an effort to upgrade the systems used in Jamaica to facilitate renal replacement therapy.

“It’s not the type of mission that Bridge of Life has done previously,” she tells JIS News, while noting that the organisation recognises that there is tremendous value in doing the surgeries as an added service to the work that it has previously done.

She also notes that the mission provided an opportunity for knowledge to be shared, as a total of seven vascular surgeons were on hand, in addition to local physicians, to ensure the successful completion of the surgical procedure.

Commenting on the progress of the project that began at the hospitals last October, Ms. Vaclavik says the clinics are all operating extremely well, “effectively treating many more patients than before the donation of the machines."

“We are not at all surprised, because we know that we are dealing in Jamaica and working with very dedicated kidney care professionals,” she adds.

Established in 2007, the Bridge of Life-DaVita Medical Missions is a non-profit organisation, operating out of the United States, which seeks to fulfill its mission of increasing access to dialysis treatment in underserved communities worldwide. The Bridge of Life has so far touched the lives of over 1,000 individuals across the world whoare in urgent need of renal replacement therapy.

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