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Patient fights to get dialysis services in WN

by Isabel Mosseler

Madeleine Labelle wants dialysis machines at the West Nipissing General Hospital, and she recently advanced a petition with 957 names supporting her endeavour. “I want everybody in the community to know that they didn’t sign for nothing. I started this on September 18th, and wrote to every department in the government, telling them to expect a petition.”

Labelle is herself a user of dialysis as both her kidneys have failed, and she has to travel 3 times a week to North Bay, sit for 4 ½ hours each time, in order to stay alive. She says she’s not alone in West Nipissing, and she’d like her life to be made a little less complicated by having the service available in her home community. Labelle isn’t sure how many people like her there are in West Nipissing, but she’s convinced it’s more than the six people that she was told the hospital knows of at this moment.

“I lost both kidneys through kidney failure, due to an autoimmune disease. It happened very, very suddenly, within three days,” she relates. After being ill for some time, she was rushed to the North Bay hospital. “My daughter drove me to North Bay, the specialist was there, the tests were done, I had an IV and a hole put in my artery – and [the doctor] kept patting me and saying ‘We’ll try to save you’ …I was in ICU because my heart stopped.” The whole experience was a nightmare, but Labelle is extremely grateful that the attending physician knew so well what he was doing. “Dr. Saunders is fantastic!”

The event happened on the long weekend this past August, and in spite of the quick care she received, the 68-year-old Labelle suffered complete kidney failure. Since then, she is acutely aware how precious life is, but it’s also become a lot more difficult. “I’m worried about having to travel in winter, plus the parking is $50 per month, plus the gas … It gets expensive. And then there’s all kinds of appointments, specialized appointments for my heart. The type of disease I have affects the major organs. It affected my kidneys but at any time it could affect my heart, my lungs, my pancreas, any of the main organs.” She’s on multiple medications for her disorder. “I asked for a kidney transplant. I am not a candidate. The specialist said because of the type of disease I have, if I got a new kidney it would be rejected in a few months.”wn expects it will need around 1,000 volunteers for the event.

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Madeleine Labelle

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