Dialysis needs fail to stop enthusiastic traveller

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2013
Dialysis Holiday
MARYKE PENMAN
NO LIMITS: North Shore Dialysis Centre patient Christine Crawford, 64, has travelled the world on dialysis and says all it takes is to plan ahead.

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Renal failure is no barrier to travelling the globe, says a dialysis patient who has been to Europe, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

For more than seven years Red Beach woman Christine Crawford, 64, has needed regular dialysis and now spends up to 12 hours a week at the North Shore Dialysis Centre in Milford.

Despite the apparent limitations Ms Crawford says there are few reasons why others with kidney failure cannot travel the world.

"I definitely think people should do it if they can afford to," she says.

"I've never had anything go wrong and it didn't hold me back whatsoever."

Allow at least nine months to book appointments at public hospitals in your destination of choice and make sure you are well enough to enjoy your trip, Mrs Crawford says.

"It is a good idea to travel with someone and it makes life a lot easier if you know people living in the country.

"They can help you arrange things from their end."

In 2009 Ms Crawford spent two weeks in Scotland where New Zealanders have access to free dialysis treatment thanks to a reciprocal agreement between governments.

She pre-booked appointments at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and says the staff there were fantastic.

In 2011 she travelled to Europe where she spent about a month in Cyprus and Greece. With no reciprocal agreement yet in place, Ms Crawford says each appointment there cost about NZ$900.

"It isn't cheap but if you have the means it is worth it to have that freedom.

"I stayed with family and went out on day trips. It is a beautiful place."

Cleanliness in the clinics was on a par with New Zealand, Ms Crawford says, most staff spoke good English and the facilities were just as good if not better. "They have pretty much the same setup as here.

"In some places the equipment was much more advanced.

"In Cyprus I just paid a lump sum before I left, but in Greece I paid after each appointment."

If space is not available in a public hospital, she says private clinics are always happy to treat you.

Australia also offers free dialysis treatment to New Zealanders, a service Ms Crawford made use of on a trip to Brisbane with friends.

"Brisbane is one of the best places I have travelled to in terms of dialysis.

"If you can get accommodation near the hospital it is a breeze."

Prior to each of her trips, Ms Crawford says she had regular checkups with her GP who also made sure her medical records were available to hospital staff overseas.

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Hemodialysis patients must dialyse for four hours, three times a week. For this reason Ms Crawford says she arranged long haul flights for straight after her last dialysis treatment to give her a "buffer period".

Dialysis is freely available to New Zealanders travelling within the country and in some overseas destinations.

Specialty travel agencies offer all-inclusive packages for dialysis patients and dedicated dialysis cruise holidays are available in some countries.

Go to kidneys.co.nz/Dialysis/Holiday-Dialysis for more information.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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