A kidney patient's dream comes true

Keith Riches will be celebrating World Kidney Awareness Day on 8 March by putting the finishing touches to the motor launch he has built from scratch.

Mr Riches, 58, from Worstead near North Walsham, was determined to carry on sailing on his beloved Broads after suffering kidney failure three years ago.

For the first two years he attended the Jack Pryor Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital three times a week for life-saving dialysis treatment. But last October he joined a small group of kidney patients who are able to dialyse from home – allowing him much more freedom to continue building and sailing his own boat.

Home dialysis is not undertaken lightly as it means the patient must be relatively fit and have a room available to accommodate all the equipment required. A carer of partner must also be on hand to help set up the process and look after the patient during dialysis.

Some patients have been dialysing at home for many years – including Avril Liddall, from Diss, who has been a home dialysis patient for 23 years.

The cost of setting up the equipment and adapting a room can be as high as £25,000 but in the long term it can save money and for some patients it is definitely a good option,” said Judy Palmer, who manages the community dialysis service in Norfolk. “It allows for more independence and an improved quality of life.”

The patients have the full support of the dialysis team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, including technical expertise and medical back-up, and the full cost is met by the health service.

Mr Riches commented: “When I was forced to give up my job as a boatbuilder I feared it would be the end of my sailing days. But then I had the idea of building a motor launch that could tow a small sailing dinghy. It's been hard work but it will all be worthwhile when my boat finally enters the water in April.”

Mr Riches paid tribute to the team at NNUH and also to Sandy Lines, a dialysis support worker who, as chair of the Norwich charity, UNKPA (the United Norwich Kidney Patients Association) organises trips to Holland every year for dialysis patients.

“I leapt at the chance of going to a sailing marina and it really was an excellent holiday,” said Keith. “Sandy is an inspiration – she organises these holidays every year for kidney patients and she deserves a medal for it!

“When my own boat is ready I hope to be able to take dialysis patients out for day trips on the Broads.

. If you would like to support UNKPA and help more dialysis patients enjoy a holiday in Holland, please contact Sandy Lines on 01603 782282 or by email: sandy.lines@nnuh.nhs.uk

Monday 5th of March 2007 10:00:07 AM