A new health service in north Queensland is about to make life a lot easier for patients needing a kidney transplant in Mount Isa.
The North Queensland Kidney Transplant Service will be located at Townsville University Hospital, and will treat treat local patients as well as those from communities across North Queensland including Mount Isa, Cairns, Mackay, Cape York, and Torres Strait Islands.
The Minister for Health, Mental Health, and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman announced the $15 million service, that will see Townsville University Hospital become the second kidney transplant service in Queensland, and the only one of its kind outside the south-east corner.
"We know how hard it can be for vulnerable Queenslanders who need to leave their homes and loved ones for months on end and travel down to SEQ for life-saving treatment," Minister Fentiman said.
"Today's announcement means people will no longer have to travel and instead can receive their kidney transplant, as well as the care required before and after, closer to home."
Transplant surgeries will be provided at Townsville University Hospital, but pre- and post-transplant care will be delivered at other hospitals across the catchment closer to where patients live.
The service will include several initiatives designed to improve local transplantation rates, including strategies to reduce the travel, financial and cultural barriers encountered by transplant patients.
Patients and clinicians from all five health services across northern Queensland will work together to design the uniquely northern and networked approach to kidney transplantation.
North Queensland Kidney Transplant lead Dr Michelle Harfield said having a closer service would ease the burden on a community with high rates of dialysis.
''Thanks to this funding, we know more patients will have a transplant rather than staying on dialysis, and in doing so, will live longer and healthier lives," Dr Harfield said.
''Kidney disease disproportionately affects disadvantaged, rural, and First Nations people, who make up a significant proportion of our population. Unfortunately, the tyranny of distance means some patients decline a lifesaving transplant and instead spend many weeks, months, and years on dialysis in an effort to stay close to home.
''I look forward to seeing kidney transplant rates for disadvantaged people, including First Nations people, increase through our commitment to creating a service designed to meet the needs of our community and one that is culturally welcoming and safe."
Townsville Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Kieran Keyes said they anticipate in the first year of operation, the service will change the lives of about 30 people through a lifesaving transplant.
''We expect the number of transplantations will grow in the future and, also, strengthen our position as the tertiary referral hospital for the region.
''This service will mean more people from northern Queensland are worked up for transplants earlier in their journey and can be placed on the wait list sooner, increasing their ability to have a transplant which they will then receive closer to home here in Townsville.
''Ultimately, the service will see less people needing dialysis and more people getting back to their communities, their families, and their day-to-day lives."
This service will create approximately 40 health care worker positions across north Queensland and links in with satellite renal dialysis network located across north Queensland.
The first kidney transplant is expected to take place at TUH in early 2025.
Quotes attributable to
Quotes attributable to Member for Mundingburra Les Walker:
"Today is an exciting day for many patients, as well as their carers and families, who one day will be able to receive life-saving transplants here in Townsville, instead of having to travel to Brisbane.
"The new kidney transplant service together with the $530 million Townsville University Hospital expansion will ensure residents have access to specialised health care for generations to come."
Quotes attributable to Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper:
"Today's announcement demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government's commitment to delivering specialty services, normally only available in Brisbane, closer to home in regional centres.
"Our region is growing, and this service will mean dialysis patients will no longer need to travel away from home and their families for months on end to receive a life-saving transplant."
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