Four dialysis machines are lying idle for want of space but work has begun to establish a new unit

Health: The country’s biggest hospital is short of space.

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital’s (JDWNRH) dialysis unit needs more space to accommodate both patients and dialysis machines.

The increasing number of patients with kidney failure has left the unit wanting for more dialysis machines but the limited space has left some machines idle.

Former Speaker Dasho Ugyen Dorji, yesterday, donated two haemodialysis machines to the hospital taking the total number of machines to 14.

The eight-bed dialysis unit was increased to 10 beds last month, to accommodate more patients. Currently, the unit’s 10 dialysis machines cater to 100 patients.  However, four machines are not in use.

Health officials said the extra machines would be used to replace the old machines once they stop functioning.

Patients with kidney failure undergo eight hours of dialysis session every week. In-charge Sabitri Sunwar, said that for adequate treatment, the patients must undergo at least three sessions a week. However, with the limited number of machines at the unit, only two sessions a week was possible, she said.

Health minister, Tandin Wangchuk said a separate dialysis unit with at least 20-beds would be established below the hospital to cater to more patients in the country. A ground breaking ceremony for the unit was also held recently.

The minister said that with economic activities picking pace in the country, the living standard of the people has also increased and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are on the rise. “The number of patients who would need dialysis service is bound to increase,” he said.

A haemodialysis machine is used as an artificial replacement for dysfunctional kidney where it acts as a kidney and removes waste and excess water from the blood. With proper diet and exercise, patients undergoing dialysis can prolong their lives by more than 10 years, Sabitri Sunwar said.

The dialysis unit in Thimphu started in 1998 with two beds. There are three dialysis units in the country. Gelephu regional referral hospital has two dialysis machines that cater to 14 patients while Mongar regional referral hospital has four machines for 23 patients.

Younten Tshedup