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Staff and patients standing next to the Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Bus delivers holiday joy

05 Oct 2018


Taking a holiday when you’re on dialysis requires more planning than checking the weather at your destination to see what to pack.

For patients who receive life-sustaining kidney dialysis three times a week using specialised equipment operated by highly skilled clinicians, getting away has been all but impossible, until the Big Red Kidney Bus hit the road.

Ling Wei, nurse unit manager for the Big Red Kidney Bus says ‘The Bus’ is a high-tech mobile dialysis unit with three chairs and a dedicated team.

“We tour NSW holiday spots – setting up for weeks at a time, so people can synchronise their holidays with the Big Red Kidney Bus dates and locations and book in their dialysis when they book their holidays,” she says.

‘The Bus’, a joint partnership between Northern Sydney Local Health District and Kidney Health Australia, is in Katoomba for six weeks and patients have come from all over to have a spring break in the Mountains.

For the first time in five years David from Port Franklin in Victoria and his wife Wilma are able to go on vacation and the couple are thrilled. “It’s an opportunity to have a holiday and visit family,” says David, who has dialysis for 5 hours three times a week.

David says he’s enjoyed the change of scenery, particularly the spectacular valley views from the lookouts, while Wilma has also had the chance to catch-up with relatives in Sydney.

Glenis cares for Ng during dialysis
Glenis cares for Ng during his dialysis on the Big Red Kidney Bus

Head of the Renal Department at Nepean Hospital, Associate Professor Kamal Sud says “in the past it has been very difficult for patients to find temporary or short term places for dialysis, if they wish to travel for work or pleasure”.

Dr Yvonne Shen, Medical Director of the Big Red Kidney Bus says “most dialysis centres are full and they can’t take patients who are holidaying or travelling for business. So, the Big Red Kidney Bus really opens up the possibility for people to travel and be assured that they can book in advance for their haemodialysis treatments”.

Louise from Forster on the NSW mid North Coast has used the Bus several times. She says she’s had beachside holidays using the services of the Bus, but it was a delight to have a break in the Mountains for a change.

The Bus is also being used by some local Blue Mountains residents as this temporary local service means they don’t have to head to Penrith for their dialysis treatments.

Ng from Wentworth Falls is enjoying sleeping in as his alarm usually wakes him at 4am three times week for an early morning trip to Nepean Hospital for dialysis.

“I’m happy, over joyed, to have my dialysis locally,” says Ng. He says the staff on the Bus have been wonderful and the bush views out of the bus’s big windows have been very calming.

Check the website for touring dates for the Big Red Kidney Bus.

Related story:  Construction underway: New Blue Mountains Renal Dialysis Centre