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[IP] US health system may not be great, but...

  Kidney patients dying in dialysis care shortage

  By Jeremy Laurance Health Editor
  14 January 2003

  Britain is in the grip of an epidemic of kidney failure and people are
  dying because hospitals do not have enough dialysis machines to keep them

  About 100,000 people have kidney disease but only 34,000 receive dialysis
  - regular treatment on a kidney machine - or have had a transplant, the
  National Kidney Research Fund (NKRF) says.

  When the kidneys fail, patients must receive dialysis or a transplant
  within three months or they will die.

  A survey of the 71 kidney units providing dialysis on the NHS in the UK
  found some were being forced to turn away patients because they could not
  cope with the demand.

  The NKRF survey found 12 units turned away patients in 2001. Seven said
  they turned away between two and 20 patients each during the year. Others
  reported having to take emergency measures to accommodate patients by
  setting up temporary dialysis stations or treating them overnight.

  The report says: "Some providers acknowledged that the final options for
  such patients are conservative management and/or death." John Bradley,
  director of the renal unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, said:
  "There is concern that patients are dying because they can't get dialysis.
  If you talk to the units they say they don't know what happens to the
  patients they turn away."

  Kidney failure is a growing problem in Britain, fuelled by the rise in
  diabetes caused by increasing obesity. The total number of sufferers is
  projected to double over the next decade. It is four times more common in
  Asians and Afro-Caribbeans. Treatment involves being connected to a kidney
  machine, three times a week, for dialysis that cleanses the blood of
  impurities. Some patients survive for decades having dialysis but it costs
  #30,000 a year.
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