This week was a big week for those suffering kidney disease in Montgomeryshire. A new permanent renal dialysis unit began taking patients. Its attached to the Victoria Hospital at Welshpool, but will serve the whole of Montgomeryshire plus a bit more. Its a day that's been awaited for a very long time. The decision to build the new unit was finally taken about two years ago, and a 6 station temporary unit was located in the Hospital car park at the same time, which will now be removed. The new unit has 12 stations. I've been involved in this 'project' for many years. I always think its worth remembering those who helped make it happen.
First up must be Assembly Member, Edwina Hart, who as the Welsh Gov't's Health Minister two years ago. During her period heading up the 'Health' brief, she made a determined commitment to renal dialysis across Wales. I suppose it will be the new Health Minister who takes the honours at the 'official' opening, which I'm told is likely to be in March. But for me the Gov't face of this will always be Edwina.
And we should remember my great friend Trudy Baynes Hill, who was an indefatigable campaigner for the new unit. We used to meet in The Exchange in Newtown for a coffee from time to time, where she worked the few hours her health allowed. Trudy had been the recipient of a heart a lung transplant at Papworth Hospital more than 20 years ago. Her kidneys also packed up and she had to dialyse regularly. She had so many health problems - and was a walking miracle. She was well less than 5' tall and was unfailingly feisty and cheerful. Sorry she died last year. It would have been great if she could have been around this week.
Despite losing my Assembly seat in 2007, I never lost interest in this project. I'm still involved as Treasurer of the North Powys Kidney Patients Assoc., which is wonderfully active and enthusiastic. Helen Corbett is the new Chair, and Julie Turner works closely with her. Some other great people involved as well. And the Hospital Lg. of Friends has been terrific.
My involvement with the project led to my wider interest in promoting organ donation and greater support for renal disease patients. I am Co-chair of the Kidney Disease APPG at Westminster. Its also led me to become an implacable opponent of the Welsh Gov'ts proposals to change the organ donation system from one based on 'opting in' to one based on ' opting out' (presumed consent). This is a controversial issue, where there are contrary opinions. Trudy did not agree with me, and I had to research well to fight my corner against her. I do become a bit irritated when I hear supposed 'Statements of Fact' that the change will produce more organs for donation. If that were true, or there were evidence to support this assertion, I might be willing to change my position. But there is none. This issue is very distressing for me, because I know its the wrong way to go. Anyway, enough of that. Its making me agitated - and this post is about celebration, and recalling those who helped bring this wonderful day to fruition.