HEALTH Minister Yvette D'Ath is about to get an invitation to meet Yarrabah dialysis patients awaiting a long-overdue decision on whether a kidney transplant unit will be built in Cairns.

The Palaszczuk government was due to reveal the location of the multimillion-dollar facility more than four months ago amid fears it would go to Townsville for political reasons.

The Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils has decided to invite Ms D'Ath to see the impact a kidney transplant unit would have on the region first-hand.

FNQROC chairman, Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr, said the decision should be based on numbers and clinical need - and Cairns had the highest number of dialysis patients in regional Queensland, with a rate of growth of new patients double the national average.

Badu Island Waikaid tribe chief Robert Sagigi is currently in Cairns, undergoing kidney dialysis for one month at Cairns Hospital. He is advocating for better health facilities in the Torres Strait. Picture: Brendan Radke
Badu Island Waikaid tribe chief Robert Sagigi is currently in Cairns, undergoing kidney dialysis for one month at Cairns Hospital. He is advocating for better health facilities in the Torres Strait. Picture: Brendan Radke

 

"A kidney transplant unit is an essential necessity for this region and a decision to place it anywhere else in the state is, one would have to suspect, not based on the facts but purely political," Mr Kerr said.

Yarrabah Shire Council Mayor Ross Andrews said care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities needed to be provided in the right place if the government was serious about closing the gap.

"Forcing First Nations people to travel outside of their region for a kidney transplant would leave them temporarily separated from their families and the support networks that are so crucial for their recuperation," Mr Andrews said.

Renal dialysis patient Kevin Johnson from Edmonton in the Cairns South Health Facility multipurpose building with Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt who opened the facility. Picture: Stewart McLean
Renal dialysis patient Kevin Johnson from Edmonton in the Cairns South Health Facility multipurpose building with Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt who opened the facility. Picture: Stewart McLean

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services chief executive Suzanne Andrews offered to introduce the health minister to Yarrabah residents dealing with end-stage kidney disease.

"The Cairns Hospital has demonstrated their proactivity in closing the gap in First Nations health by participating in the National Indigenous Kidney Taskforce," she said.

"We support Cairns as the next location for a kidney transplant unit in Queensland."

Originally published as 'Purely political': Kidney transplant unit decision long overdue



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