How can you say no to a 93-year-old grandmother?
Well, most people couldn’t. And because of that, Vernon kidney dialysis patient Beryl Nerling reached her goal of raising $60,000 for 10 new dialysis chairs at the Vernon Renal Centre.
“I never thought it would go that good,” said Nerling, sitting in one of the new chairs at the centre. “I remember the day I was asked to head up a team to get money for the chairs. It took me about seven months to think about it. Then, once we started, it took three months to get the money. “Thank you to everyone who contributed.”
Nerling’s goal was to make the dialysis patient more comfortable during the long procedure (four hours), and improve the working conditions for nurses.
While the old chairs were mechanically operated, the new chairs have small electric motors that allow the patient to easily adjust the chair, and allows the nurse to conveniently position the patient without compromising safety. Attachments for the chairs that will allow patients to exercise while undergoing treatment are also on order.
Calgary’s Jim Gray, whose late wife Josie was a dialysis patient, helped advocate for the new chairs. He and his family kicked off the Vernon fundraising campaign with a $6,000 donation, the cost of one new chair, in memory of Josie, who died in 2015, and as a tribute to Nerling.
Josie would use the old chairs while on visits to Vernon. Gray saw the benefits of the new chairs in Calgary as she underwent dialysis.
“The chairs in Calgary and Vernon are made in Australia by a Germany company. They’ve had them in Calgary for 18 months and chairs have been changed as a result of testing in Calgary,” said Gray, who flew into Vernon to attend the chair ceremony along with his daughter, Janice Clements. “They are the best chairs in the world. Now it’s just a matter of propagating their use.”
The Kelowna General Hospital Foundation handled the funds during the fundraising as KGH manages renal programs for the Okanagan. Foundation executive director Doug Rankmore was thoroughly impressed with the new chairs and with the woman who spearheaded the fundraising.
“None of this would have been possible if not for Beryl’s leadership,” he said.
More than two million Canadians have some form of kidney disease, and nearly 20,000 receive long-term hemodialysis. That involves going to a dialysis centre three days a week for approximately three hours each visit.
The patient sits in a special chair during the procedure which cleans their blood of toxins, the job a healthy functioning kidney performs.