Jim quit dialysis as he could not endure journeys to Waterford

Published 17/09/2016 | 00:00

A Wexfordman died eight weeks after making the decision to discontinue dialysis treatment because he could no longer face the journey to and from Waterford three times a week.

Jim Mernagh of Moorfields House, Rathaspeck died peacefully at home, eight weeks after he stopped receiving dialysis treatment at Waterford University Hospital.

Seventy-nine year old Jim told his family 'I can't do this anymore,' after he had endured the gruelling journey to Waterford three times a week for several months since starting dialysis treatment at the end of November 2015.

The diabetes sufferer consulted with his hospital consultant, his G.P. and a palliative care team before making an 'informed decision' to discontinue treatment rather keep travelling to Waterford.

Jim's widow Alice said she was sure he would not have given up the weekly treatment if there had been a dialysis unit closer to home.

'He would arrive home absolutely exhausted at 6.30 pm or 6.45 pm in the evening having been collected at 9.30 am that morning, after three hours of treatment on each occasion. He would barely be able to stand when he got out of the car. We felt that any good he was getting from the dialysis was completely negated by the travelling and the waiting around,' said Alice.

'Dialysis patients have to wait until everyone else is finished for a full complement of people to go home by car or bus and then the driver has to deliver patients home to other areas.'

'It was heartbreaking to see the other people in the car too and how exhausted they looked as well'.

Alice said she decided to speak out about Jim's experience to make people aware of the human hardship behind the continuing delay in the provision of a satellite dialysis centre in Wexford.

'To me the decision that Jim made was very courageous. When he stopped the treatment, he got eight and a half weeks. He was happier when he made the decision. He just couldn't keep travelling up and down to Waterford anymore. It was killing him.'

A satellite unit was first identified as urgently-needed in Wexford over 10 years ago. There are currently approximately 60 patients in the county who have to travel to Waterford and Dublin for treatment three times a week. A number of them are elderly people.

'All the health planners and the politicians are failing to grasp the core of the situation, the helplessness and hopelessness that patients and their families feel and what they have to endure,' said Alice.

'Alice said Jim was happier in himself after he made the decision because he didn't have to face that 'awful journey'

'Jim's time is over but I'm doing this for the other people who are still travelling to Waterford for dialysis every week and out of frustration at the failure of the planners to recognise the human experience behind the need for the dialysis unit.'

'Fresenius Medical Care Ltd, the company awarded a contract by the HSE was recently refused planning permission for a dialysis unit at Whitemill Industrial Estate and has appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala. A ruling is not due until mid-January 2017 at the earliest.

'Jim was buried on the Sunday and on Tuesday I picked up the local newspaper and saw that planning permission had been refused, I felt so angry and so frustrated,' said Alice who praised the compassion and professionalism of staff in the renal dialysis unit of Waterford University Hospital and the kindness of drivers with Bushers taxi company in Wexford who transport patients to the hospital.

'It has nothing to do with the effiency of the dialysis unit in Waterford. They are also frustrated with the whole system,' she said.

A satellite unit was opened in Kilkenny but Wexford is still waiting, she added.

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