Patients at the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) will have the opportunity to undergo kidney transplant free of charge from September 2018.
The First Sky Group, a construction firm which is sponsoring the initiative, will bring in specialists from Birmingham in the United Kingdom to perform kidney transplants for the patients.
The initiative serves as an exit plan by the group, which has instituted a Kidney Transplant Scheme to support patients with kidney diseases to undergo weekly renal dialysis at Korle Bu.
The Chairman of the First Sky Group, Mr Eric Seddy Kutortse, made this known when a team from the group embarked on a familiarisation tour of the Renal Unit at Korle Bu in Accra on Monday to assess how the scheme had impacted on patients after its establishment 18 months ago.
Under the transplant initiative, while the group funds the transplant, the patients will have to get their donors, with the doctors determining the right donated kidney to use.
Other groups used to sponsor specialists from Birmingham to undertake kidney transplants in Ghana between 2008 and 2013 but they stopped due to financial constraints.
Records provided by the Head of the Renal Dialysis Unit at Korle Bu, Dr Vincent Boima, indicated that over 260 patients were currently on dialysis at the unit.
Besides, a number of patients continued to visit the unit, a situation which, he said, had put pressure on the facility.
Meanwhile, he indicated that the scheme initiated by the First Sky Group had helped the patients a lot because before the scheme most of them could not afford the dialysis, since they had to pay GH¢260 per dialysis, aside from ancillary medication that came with the cost.
But for the scheme, patients who had to be ondialysis twice or three times a week would have paid between GH¢500 and GH¢800 per week to survive, he said.
“The kidney disease burden in the country is rising and currently in Ghana it is estimated to be about 17 per cent of the population. Globally, ours is really high. There are over 260 patients who are on the machine currently, but at the outpatients department (OPD) alone we have almost 4,000 people who are being followed up,” he revealed.
Dr Boima indicated that although the government did not provide funding for the unit, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) covered some of the medication, not the dialysis.
Speaking after the tour, Mr Kutortse, who observed that the unit was congested because many patients were trooping in, said the group would first renovate the facility to ease the pressure on it, after which it would bring in the specialists.
He said four people would have their kidneys transplanted at a time for proper monitoring, adding that the group intended to bring in the specialists to carry out the transplants twice a year.
He also indicated that after establishing the scheme, it had become an institution which had no exit plan, hence the need to establish one, which is the introduction of the kidney transplant for the final state of the ailment.
“We have decided to collaborate with Korle Bu to establish a Kidney Transplanting Unit at the hospital. If that is done, we can have patients who have donors to be transplanted, so that they will be free from the dialysis,” he said.
One patient who has been on dialysis for four years, Cyril Bani, said he had been funding his dialysis at the mercy of his friends, lecturers and relatives until he met the First Sky Group which had supported him till now.
“Previously, we were paying GH¢260 per session and some people were required by the doctor to do it twice or three times in a week and it was very difficult for people to pay. Some even came once in a month and others were dying unduly.
But now the level at which people die has come down due to the burden that has been reduced from us,” he said.
He thanked the First Sky Group, especially the Chairman, for paying for everybody at the unit to have his or her dialysis for free.
“Now he has promised to do the transplant, which is the ultimate, and we pray for strength for him and his team. We really appreciate his support,” he added.