Thousands of British Columbians are getting cold feet over dialysis treatments, but the Kidney Foundation of Canada B.C. and Yukon Branch is warming soles and souls through its Warm the Sole campaign.
When kidney function fails, regular dialysis treatments to clear the blood of waste, excess salt and water are needed to keep the patient alive until the disease affecting their kidneys is cured or they receive a kidney transplant.
About 36 people a day, five days a week, plus about 24 more patients on weekends are hooked up to dialysis machines at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s renal unit.
“Technically dialysis is a process that takes blood away from the body and into a machine for filtration and, of course, when it’s out of the body it cools down,” said Kerry Hoop, NRGH renal unit manager. “Even though we actively warm it, the net effect is that dialysis patients just feel cold.”
Adding to the chilling effect is the fact that dialysis patients must be still for about four or five hours at a stretch during each treatment, so their hands and feet get cold.
“Our patients always feel cold and they would love tuques, sometimes mittens, anything really,” Hoop said.
On Friday the Kidney Foundation of Canada stopped by NRGH to deliver about 80 pairs of socks to help warm dialysis patients’ feet, through the foundation’s Warm the Sole campaign, which thanks to a $10,000 grant awarded from the 2018 Aviva Community Fund Small Idea Competition, will distribute about 3,300 pairs of socks to dialysis patients across B.C.
“On Vancouver Island we’ll be giving out about 300 pairs of socks, so every dialysis clinic will get socks,” said Randy Spensley, foundation engagement officer.
Another 3,300 pairs of socks will be distributed to people less fortunate across the Lower Mainland.
“I had a transplant six and a half years ago and I was on dialysis for three and a half years prior to that … So it’s great for me to be able to give back to the patients directly,” Spensley said.
Spensley’s form of peritoneal dialysis allowed him to take his treatments at home overnight, which allowed him to continue working and carry on a comparatively normal life. Hemodialysis, which requires patients to receive treatments on a machine in the hospital, places a much heavier burden on their lives.
“These folks here … many of the patients can’t work because of the fact that, here they are for practically 12 hours throughout the week, three times a week,” Spensley said. “Me, I was just able to do it a different way so I was still able to work.”