Dr. Mark Lipman, Chief of Nephrology at the Jewish General Hospital, credits the Foundation for its life-saving support of a critical department.

When your job is to do the work of a crucial human organ for almost 300 people, you can’t afford not to be prepared and you can’t take days off – even in the worst snowstorm or during a pandemic.

“The need for hemodialysis keeps growing.”

For six days every week (except Sundays), the hemodialysis team at the Jewish General Hospital provides lifesaving care for patients from 7:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night. The patients have kidney failure and require dialysis, usually three times a week, for about four hours each time, to do the job their kidneys cannot – clean impurities from their blood.

There is no other medical intervention that requires patients to be at a hospital so much over such a long period of time. Many are on dialysis for years until the fortunate ones can stop if they receive a successful kidney transplant.

Dr. Mark Lipman, the JGH Chief of Nephrology and Associate Physician-in-Chief, knows the cycle all too well as he has been at the hospital for 31 years. That’s long enough to actually see some patients have a successful transplant, then to have the transplant fail after 10 or 15 years, requiring them to return to dialysis and, eventually, a re-transplant. The JGH is not a transplant centre, so it works in close collaboration with the McGill University Health Centre to provide transplants to some 20-25 hemodialysis patients every year while still being followed by their JGH doctors.

“I’ve seen all the different phases of their care over many years – it’s a unique job that creates unique bonds,” he said. “There’s no other branch of medicine that replaces the work of a vital human organ over the long-term.”

Consistent, long-term care requires resources

Delivering that care consistently for so long requires many resources, along with the dedication and expertise of a large team of doctors, nurses and technicians. “We can’t take days off,” said Dr. Lipman. “We close on Christmas Day, but that means we have to be open for patients the following Sunday instead.”

The hemodialysis unit at the JGH has grown steadily in the years Dr. Lipman has been at the hospital. It had met the demand by occupying two separate locations, but in 2016 they were brought together into one efficient and greatly modernized facility, the Sandra and Steven Mintz Nephrology Centre. Creating it was an $8.8-million project for which a large portion of the funding came from donors to the JGH Foundation, including a transformative gift from the Mintz family.

One of the vital pieces of infrastructure in the new centre is its sophisticated water filtration system which transforms what comes out of Montreal taps into the large quantities of ultra-pure sterile water needed to clean patients’ blood. “It’s a really impressive piece of equipment, right out of a James Bond movie,” said Dr. Lipman.

Demand for hemodialysis is on the rise

When it opened its new facilities in 2016, the centre provided 37 hemodialysis stations, but it was planned for growth and 10 more were added several years later. In total, the centre can accommodate 280 patients, a capacity which is again close to being reached.

“The support we receive from the JGH Foundation is absolutely critical and the ongoing support of the Mintz family and other donors also facilitates much of the important research work we do.”

“Kidney failure, unfortunately, is a growth industry,” said Dr. Lipman. “Cardiologists and oncologists are helping people survive those illnesses, but they can also develop kidney failure. And diabetes is an epidemic, which is another major cause. The need for hemodialysis keeps growing.”

Besides getting a kidney transplant, another way some people with kidney failure can avoid the hospital hemodialysis centre is by using a different process, peritoneal dialysis, that can be done at home using special dialysis solutions that are cycled through the abdominal cavity. The JGH has about 50 patients using this procedure and Dr. Lipman says the hospital also has a proposal being evaluated to create a “home-hemo” unit – hemodialysis at home, in line with the hospital’s commitment to providing “Care Everywhere.”

The need for equipment and resources to provide hemodialysis is significant. “We need big budgets,” said Dr. Lipman, “The support we receive from the JGH Foundation is absolutely critical and the ongoing support of the Mintz family and other donors also facilitates much of the important research work we do.”

Thanks to their access to advanced equipment, JGH nephrology patients are sure to get the best treatment for their circumstances – and it’s in part because of the generous support of donors to the JGH Foundation.

To make a donation to the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, please go to jghfoundation.org

Related Posts