"Praise for Vale of Leven"

About: Royal Alexandra Hospital (Paisley) Stobhill Hospital / Nephrology Vale of Leven General Hospital / Renal Unit

(as the patient),

In January 2015, I had to get my partner to make the call we all hope we never have to make, "Call me an Ambulance". I remember the Paramedics getting me inside and placing the oxygen mask on my face, but that's the last memory I will have for the next 2 days. Unknown to me or my family, I had only one normal sized kidney. The smaller one being so tiny, it had probably never worked during my life, so at 43 years old, the normal sized one was knackered and had kidney stones in it.

I stopped breathing in the ambulance and the paramedics managed to bring me back. I was kept in a coma in the RAH for 2 days whilst being scanned and then hooked up to a dialysis machine for 24 hours. I also had a urinary infection and my liver was infected. It was touch and go for a few days, my family including my 2 children aged 10 and 12 were told to prepare for the worst. I was in the ICU at Paisley for over a week and then in their Urology ward for another week. I had to learn to walk again, how to eat again.

I got home for 10 days and ended up with breathing problems again and was kept in at the Vale of Leven Hospital for 2 days waiting on a bed in the Western. I was there for a week, had a fistula and tunnelled lines put in as dialysis was now inevitable for me to survive. I attended the Renal Unit at Stobhill for 9 weeks, 3 times a week. Quite a trek from Luss, however, at that time, there were no available places in the Vale of Leven Renal Unit.

In the final 5 weeks at Stobhill, I mentioned at every session, pain and bruising in my legs and later lumps under my skin on my legs and stomach. I mentioned it to at least 10 members of staff including the consultant. No-one looked at it at all. I thought it could be water retention, however, I also was learning about kidney failure and all it's symptoms at the time and feel that someone at least should have checked it.

Thanks to the patient reshuffle with the new Southern opening, I finally got a place in the Vale Renal Unit. Thank Goodness. Not just for the travelling, but on my 2nd session, the consultant Dr Daly saw me and had a look at the painful lumps and bruises. I started treatment that afternoon for Calciphylaxis. I am so lucky I went to the Vale when I did and that they took this condition seriously as the survival rate from Calciphylaxis is only around 20%. I started dialysing 6 days a week, dosed with Sodium Thiosulfate every day, Cinacalcet for my thyroid in case it was causing it and a long term anti-biotic prescribed by Dr Hassan, the Consultant Dermatologist there.

These people have saved my life again. I am happy to say at this point the treatment appears to be working. This is where I would like my story to make my point. The Vale of Leven Hospital is a fantastic place. The buildings may be falling down and look horrendous, but the care and treatment given by staff there is second to none. I've had quite the tour of hospitals in my lifetime due to other medical issues, but I can honestly say, the Vale staff are the best. The Renal Unit is so much more capable of looking after their patients as they actually practice "Personal Care" for their patients. They know how we are just by looking at us and that can be critical with Renal Patients as we can go downhill in seconds. I cannot praise the staff there highly enough.

I also want to point out we desperately need an A & E unit back at the Vale. Due to the A82 being so easily blocked be it with roadworks, breakdowns or accidents, our part of the world is very easily isolated from anything south of Dumbarton. I thank my lucky stars there were no traffic problems on the morning in January as I might not be here to tell you about this today. Inverclyde has an A & E and we are more remote and cut-off than they are. We are in the middle of a massive building site here with houses springing up everywhere, so where are all these extra people in the population going to be treated? And finally, we are supposed to be getting another 5000 staff and their families to Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base. Why are we not getting an A & E reinstated to deal with this jump in the population? Not having an A & E in this area is going to cost lives and probably has done so already. I was almost one. Please reinstate it at the Vale. It is vital.

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