£4m kidney disease wellness centre plan for Welsh patients

Image source, NHS Wales

A £4m wellness centre for the 10,000 people in Wales living with kidney disease could become the first of its kind in the country.

On Tuesday, a 450 mile (724 km) trek begins that will visit all 16 dialysis centres to raise awareness.

With many sufferers having to spend six hours three times a week on dialysis, holidays are not possible for some.

Charity Kidney Wales organised the walk to mark its 50th anniversary and hopes a new centre could provide respite.

There are 1,400 patients on dialysis in Wales - a process where a machine removes waste and excess water from the blood of people whose kidneys have stopped working

There are also 165 people waiting for kidney transplants in Wales (90% of all people waiting for transplants), with 33% dying before they receive them.

Life for people on dialysis is "a struggle" and chances to get away are "quite limited", Billy Stephens, 47, told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales.

Image caption,
Kidney Wales chief executive Roy Thomas set off on the walk from Cardiff Castle

His kidney failed at 33 and he had six months of dialysis before a transplant which he said "saved three lives" - that of his wife and two children.

"People on dialysis find it hard physically and mentally. Something like a wellness centre would give them a chance to go on holiday, have respite and spend time with the family," he said.

"Even on their days off [from dialysis], people can struggle with the effects and be tired and dehydrated. Somewhere nearby would be a great help."

Kidney Wales chief executive Roy Thomas said the process was demanding on both sufferers and their families, with issues affecting holidays such as insurance, availability of dialysis machines abroad and concern something may go wrong.

"It is sometimes forgotten but people can feel isolated and it's a struggle," he said.

The walk, which will stop in 25 towns, will take about a month to complete.

If the wellness centre plan comes to fruition, it will be the first not-for-profit facility of its kind in Wales.

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