Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis – In a landmark initiative aimed at revolutionizing healthcare in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister, and Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew officially launched the Kidney (Renal) Transplant Program on Friday, November 24th, 2023. The historic launch took place during a special edition of Health Wise on ZIZ Radio and Television, hosted by Dr. Joylette Woodley-Fassale, General Surgeon at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital, President of the St. Kitts Nevis Medical and Dental Association, and Head of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at JNF
During his opening statement, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew emphasized the Government’s commitment to providing accessible healthcare to all citizens. He acknowledged the rising incidence of renal disease, attributing it to chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Dr. Drew highlighted the cost-effectiveness and improved quality of life associated with renal transplants, positioning it as the preferred option over current dialysis treatments.
Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew during his opening statement at the launch stated, “What we are really doing here is to launch a program that will benefit the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis no matter where they live or their stead in life, as long as they need this type of medical care we want to make it available. We are seeing an increase in renal disease, and I will attribute that to some extent to chronic diseases as well, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and the like. We know that renal transplant is the best option, we also know that renal transplant is cheaper, and associated with a better quality of life, and therefore we want to offer this to the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis.”
The Minister of Health added that the program is “exciting news especially for those who need definitive treatment when it comes to end-stage renal disease and for the first time in Saint Kitts and Nevis we are at a point where we can offer this to our people.”
The beginning of this groundbreaking initiative was traced back to Dr. Drew’s meeting with Professor Nadey Hakim, a renowned transplant and bariatric surgeon. Dr. Hakim, a Professor at Imperial College London and a surgeon at Cleveland Clinic London, collaborated with the government to establish the Kidney (Renal) Transplant Program. His expertise, reflected in over 200 reviewed papers and numerous textbooks, brings a wealth of knowledge to the initiative.
Dr. Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions at JNF, expressed excitement about the program, emphasizing the hope it brings to those suffering from end-stage renal disease. He highlighted the potential of the program to ease the financial burden on dialysis patients and improve their overall quality of life.
“If it’s one thing that everyone agrees with is that anything that can give more hope and more options to the persons who suffer from end-stage renal disease is something that the staff is going to be all for. Anything to either improve the dialysis options or in this case, anything to give them another treatment modality”, said Dr. Morton.
Dr. Dunia Diegguez Velqzgue, a Nephrologist at JNF, provided insights into the transformative impact of the kidney transplant program. With 40 patients on hemodialysis at JNF, she stressed the life-changing benefits a kidney transplant brings, including improved health, fewer complications, and the restoration of all kidney functions.
“We have 40 patients in hemodialysis right now, but less than 50 years old, less than 15 patients. Currently, patients come three (3) times per week for four (4) hours or more for treatment. A kidney transplant will make a major difference in their lives. Too many complications can come even with dialysis patients. Kidney transplant is the best option because it is a new organ and dialysis can only replace the waste system and the fluid, but the new kidney will replace all functions of the kidney. The patient will have better health, less complications with the heart, the metabolism will increase, and all functions of the kidney will be recovered. That’s why it is the best option.”
The Minister of Health underscored a two-fold message to the public: prevention through healthy lifestyle practices and early management of chronic diseases to avoid reaching end-stage renal disease. He stated, “This initiative is a significant advancement in our healthcare system, ensuring highly specialized care is available here in Saint Kitts and Nevis.”
The Kidney (Renal) Transplant Program marks a pivotal moment in Saint Kitts and Nevis’ healthcare landscape, offering hope and advanced medical care to those in need. The government’s collaboration with Dr. Hakim reflects a commitment to enhancing healthcare infrastructure, ultimately benefiting the Federation.