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For Immediate Release
(LONDON, Ontario) – Ten years ago when she was 27 years old, Kim Barrey was told she was in kidney failure and immediately began routine dialysis treatment through London Health Sciences Centre’s Regional Renal Program. In addition to the life-altering kidney failure diagnosis, Barrey was also told she was unlikely to ever get pregnant, and was not advised to try as it could jeopardize her fragile health.
“I remember I just sat there and cried,” recalls Barrey, now 36. “It was heartbreaking and overwhelming and just so much stress.” A few years later and in much better health thanks to regular dialysis treatments, Barrey was further overwhelmed when, during routine pre-op tests for her second kidney transplant surgery, she discovered she was pregnant.
“I knew that the transplant would change my life, and I wanted that kidney. But I wanted a baby a lot more, and from that point I knew that my life was going to be so much more amazing because of him,” says Barrey from her home in Woodstock, Ont. where last Friday, March 30, Barrey’s “little miracle boy” Evin celebrated his first birthday.
Dialysis is the process of removing toxins and fluids from the body through a machine, a process normally controlled by the kidneys (or renal system). Traditional hospital dialysis means patients come in three times a week for three- to-four hours per session. Other methods include peritoneal dialysis, which is when a patient has a permanent tube in the abdomen that is used to flush away toxins while he or she sleeps, and home hemodialysis that can also be performed overnight. LHSC’s Regional Renal Program offers all of these dialysis options for patients.
In 2008, under the supervision of her nephrologist Dr. Robert Lindsay, Barrey was enrolled in a clinical trial that put her on more frequent, six-days-a-week dialysis. This consistent and more frequent dialysis — compared to traditional three times a week— helps to further stabilize and improve patients’ health. In 2009 Barrey began nocturnal home hemodialysis which provides dialysis treatment seven hours a night, for five nights a week.
“The more you dialyse, the better you will feel because your body is able to clear more toxins, meaning you increase your ‘clearance’ levels,” says Rosemary Leitch, a primary care nurse in LHSC’s renal program. “With better clearances, in some cases our female patients’ menstrual cycles actually start back up, so they are able to get pregnant.”
However, even if a female patient is able to conceive, it’s a very high-risk pregnancy as the kidneys are expected to work even harder throughout a pregnancy; an option not available when a patient is already on dialysis.
Barrey is only the second successful patient (and third pregnancy) at LHSC’s Regional Renal Program to get pregnant while on dialysis, and Leitch worked with her colleagues to provide additional care and attention for Barrey throughout her pregnancy.
“Being pregnant while in kidney failure means dialysis treatment every single day, and a lot of changes to medications,” says Leitch. “Intensive dialysis is required to get and stay pregnant, and you really need an invested team, from doctors to nurses to pharmacists, to ensure a happy and healthy outcome.”
Seven weeks before her delivery date, Barrey was admitted to the antenatal unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital (which transferred from St. Joseph’s to LHSC in June 2011). Rather than shuttle her back-and-forth from St. Joseph’s to the Adam Linton Dialysis Unit at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital, Leitch and her colleagues would visit Barrey’s hospital room every day to provide the life-saving dialysis that she and her unborn son required.
Now celebrating her son’s first birthday, Barrey has just completed the testing to be put back on the kidney transplant waiting list.
“I am so happy, and so in love with my family. A transplant would be nice, but I’m not pushing it,” says Barrey. “I’m very content where I am.”
About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph’s Health Care London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca
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