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Donor Story

Bringing a little more comfort to our dialysis patients

For over a decade, Jacqueline has had her very own seat at our Oshawa Hospital Hemodialysis Unit.

“It’s my spot,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve been in Pod B four times a week for the past 13 years. I’m Queen B!”

And now the Queen B has a new throne. Thanks to generous donor support of dialysis care, Lakeridge Health Foundation was able to fund the replacement of 36 dialysis chairs at our Oshawa site and 27 chairs in Whitby.

Jacqueline is just one of hundreds of dialysis patients who rely on Lakeridge Health Oshawa’s Hemodialysis Unit and the Howard and Stephanie Humphrey Dialysis Centre at our Whitby Hospital.

Your kidneys are a critical part of your health.  They “clean” your blood by removing wastes from the body, help your body to make red blood cells, and regulate blood pressure.  One of the main jobs of the kidneys is to remove wastes from the blood and return the cleaned blood back to the body. Every minute, about one litre of blood enters the kidneys. After the blood is cleaned, it flows back into the body.

A variety of conditions and disorders can affect the kidneys. Most kidney disease impact the filtering units of the kidneys and damage their ability to eliminate waste and excess fluids. These diseases can range from mild to severe and in some cases, lead to kidney failure.

Hemodialysis is a life-saving and life-changing treatment that mimics the functions of the kidneys, by cleaning the blood and removing excess fluid. When a patient’s kidneys are damaged or no longer functional, a hemodialysis machine filters the patient’s blood. This provides critical support and improved quality of life.

Patients spend on average four hours connected to a hemodialysis machine to receive their treatment and can only lay down or sit upright. Our Hospitals offer hemodialysis treatment three times each day, and each patient receives treatment at least three times per week. On average the Hemodialysis Unit at the Oshawa Hospital provides over 650 hemodialysis treatments each week.

“I fit nicely in this chair,” Jacqueline says. “And it’s a very smooth ride.”

The constant use causes wear and tear on the chairs and has a significant impact on patient comfort.

Anna-Marie Sutherland, Director, Regional Nephrology & Diabetes Programs, and Medical Director of Nephrology Dr. Charles Wei met with Lakeridge Health Foundation early in 2023 to discuss replacing all 63 chairs.

“The existing chairs had reached the end of their life span,” explains Anna-Marie. “Dr. Wei and I identified this as a key priority for the program, and we then met with the Foundation to begin the replacement process.”

Replacing all of the chairs across two Hospitals was no easy feat and takes a lot of coordination. As the excitement grew, the teams at both Hospitals all chipped in to make installing the new chairs as easy as possible.

“The new chairs have improved the patient experience,” says Anna-Marie. “Patients can spend on average 12 hours or more a week in these chairs, so their comfort is important.”

“The armrests are wider, and there are some additional side compartments where patients can put their phone and other personal items,” explains Nick Fontana, Patient Care Manager, Nephrology & Diabetes program. “The controls are easier to use, and there are a few more automated positions, but ultimately, the chairs allow the patients to be as comfortable as possible.”

Excitement began building when the patients first heard about the new chairs. This included Filomena, a hemodialysis patient in Whitby. She previously required the use of a stretcher for positioning, but having the new chairs in place, has provided the comfort ad ability for her to now use a chair during her treatment. 

“I’ve been on the old chairs and stretchers, too. This new one is very comfortable,” she explains. It’s almost like a bed.” 

Unlike a stretcher, the chairs allow the patient to have access to the positioning controls. If they need to sit up or a position begins to get uncomfortable and can independently reposition themselves. 

Jacqueline’s condition is unique. Her blood pressure drops almost immediately after being connected to the dialysis machine, so positioning is very important for her.

“With these chairs, I can lower my head and raise my feet with one button, and that helps my blood pressure immediately,” explains Jacqueline. “When I want to sit up again, I can control how fast or slow the chair moves based on how I’m feeling.”

“I think it’s nicer for the nurses, too,” Filomena says. “We’re a bit higher up, and there’s more space for them. I give it a thumbs up!”

While it has only been a few weeks, patients are enjoying a more comfortable experience at our Oshawa Hospital and the Howard and Stephanie Humphrey Dialysis Centre.

“We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the donors who made this possible with their incredibly generous support,” says Anna-Marie. “This has made a significant and positive impact on both our patients and staff. Thank you.”