Relief as surgery wait ends

20:40, Nov 25 2012
Marie Wilkey
Marie Wilkey will have an operation to remove both her kidneys at Wellington Hospital tomorrow

A Blenheim woman promised a life-saving kidney by Christmas has to wait a little longer because of a booking bungle.

Marie Wilkey will have an operation to remove both her kidneys at Wellington Hospital tomorrow. In January, they will be replaced by a healthy kidney from her sister Erica Carey, also of Blenheim.

Mrs Wilkie said she had been led to expect a transplant operation on December 5, which would have meant her kidneys were removed in late October.

"But someone forgot to book the first operation," she said.

Meanwhile, a hernia caused by abdominal pressure from her enlarged kidneys has become very uncomfortable. Her Marlborough doctor decided to wait to fix it because he believed surgery was imminent.

Mrs Wilkes said on Monday she felt "really excited, nervous, angry, frustrated and relieved. It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride".


Her kidneys weigh about 5.5kg each. She expected the operation on Thursday to be like having twins by caesarean. "I don't think we'll put a birth notice in the paper, though."

Once the kidneys have been removed, she will go to Nelson three times a week for four hours of haemodialysis, in which her blood will be run through a filter, cleaned and returned. Last week, she had a line inserted in her neck ready for this treatment.

The failure to book the preliminary operation had added a lot of stress to her wait, Mrs Wilkey said.

She wonders if a breakdown in communication between the Nelson Marlborough and Wellington district health boards and other services might have played a part.

For example, the same day the Wellington surgeon said no-one had booked her preliminary surgery and he could not operate until November, the transplant co-ordinator said "don't worry, it will be done by the end of October".

It was often unclear who was in charge of her treatment, so a lot of time was wasted trying to find the right person to ask any questions, Mrs Wilkey said.

Both sisters will book into Wellington Hospital for the transplant surgery in January.

For Miss Carey, the transplant will involve keyhole surgery and perhaps a couple of days in hospital. For Mrs Wilkey, recovery could take weeks. She now spends nine hours a night on home dialysis and wears maternity trousers to stretch across her swollen abdomen. She is in constant pain.

Her husband Alister and 15-year-old son Aaron are looking forward to seeing the quality of her life improve after two years of struggle.



The Marlborough Express