Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Dialysis of kidney patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital was disrupted for three days this week because of a shortage of liquid bicarbonate.

I discovered this on my visit this morning to the hospital’s dialysis unit.

Doctors told me that the shortage started on Saturday evening and they had to borrow bicarbonate from Leratong hospital.

For three days, from Monday to Wednesday, dialysis came to a virtual halt, affecting about 180 patients as the unit usually does about 60 patients a day.

Supplies only arrived on Wednesday night. It appears that either the hospital pharmacy or the Auckland Park Medical Depot slipped up in not placing an order.

This incompetence endangers patients lives, especially the acute cases. Chronic patients also suffer when treatment is delayed for any reason.

The broader tragedy is that there are 120 patients on the waiting list for dialysis at Baragwanath, but only five kidney transplants have been done there so far this year because of an acute shortage of donors.

Countrywide there are more than 3000 patients needing organ transplants, and only about 200 kidney transplants are done each year. Patients can wait three years before they are placed on dialysis, and many die before then or are not even accepted on the waiting list.

Management at Baragwanath Hospital must reveal why this inexcusable dialysis disruption occurred and what is going to happen to ensure that there is always uninterrupted treatment.

Meanwhile, a high-profile campaign to encourage organ donation would assist in shortening the dialysis waiting lists and saving lives.

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