Give the gift of hope this Christmas for people like Rebecca and her family

Will you help families living with life threatening medical conditions stay together this Christmas?

Please give to fund vital research into life-changing, life-saving treatments and therapies.

Sadly, some people will be spending this Christmas in a hospital bed – away from their family and friends.

But, thanks to people like you supporting medical research, we’re finding ways to help people manage their treatment in the comfort of their own home.

I’d like to introduce you to a lovely patient in our care, Rebecca. She’s a mum of two amazing kids, aged fourteen and eleven.

Rebecca was diagnosed with a kidney condition in her early twenties – despite being young and healthy.

Living with kidney failure is tough. It means endless trips to hospital for dialysis, feeling exhausted all the time, and worrying about the risk of infection. That’s hard enough when you live near a hospital, let alone in a remote location like so many Western Australians do.

Rebecca told us she found out her condition had deteriorated to a serious level right as she was in the process of moving up north to Karratha for a three-year work commitment.

“With my condition, there are dark times when I feel really fragile from the mental load of everything I have to think about. So, moving to Karratha, I was relieved that I could go onto peritoneal (at-home) dialysis. I could manage my treatment from home with doctors at a distance – keeping me in the care of Charlies rather than transferring to another hospital.”

Then, just months after she relocated up north, Rebecca travelled to Perth to receive a kidney transplant – her sister donated her kidney.

Kidney transplant recovery is a long and gruelling process. But, thankfully, Rebecca’s transplant was a success! Everything was going well, and she was feeling much better with her new kidney.

But then things took a turn…

“We were on holiday traveling around with family. Then, one by one, we all got some kind of virus. That started a downward spiral for me.

“I spent about eight months doing aggressive treatment to try and save the kidney…but we couldn’t. And I had to go on haemodialysis [in-hospital treatment] for four months. I was coming into the hospital three times a week for four hours of treatment at a time.

“I think it’s probably a cumulative effect on the family – it feels like a really long period of stress and as much as we tried to keep things normal for the kids it is hard.

“I reckon that sustained stress is just difficult on young kids, it’s probably difficult on my husband as well to be honest.”

My heart sinks thinking of Rebecca and her sister hearing the news that the new kidney was failing – after all the work, physically and emotionally, they both put into the transplant.

Keeping up with everyday life already takes tremendous resilience for someone living with kidney failure, even without transplant complications.

Rebecca is an incredibly smart, talented, and hard-working woman. She has a highly demanding job managing a multitude of important responsibilities. All while raising her two beautiful children.

And Rebecca knows too well that a serious medical condition affects the whole family.

“As much as my husband and I have tried to keep things normal for the kids, it has definitely had an effect. It upsets the balance of the house when I have to go to hospital. But sometimes I get really sick, really quick. It knocks the wind out of me, and I feel like I can’t maintain what I do day to day. They’re the most stressful times for the family.”

Your gift to Charlies means:

  • You will help people move forward and find the best way to manage their health.
    Your support will help people know what their treatment options are and how to live more comfortably in their day-to-day life.
  • You will help keep families together for longer.
    It’s heartbreaking when a patient in long-term hospital care tells me they just want to be home with their family. You can help us find ways to give patients more flexible treatments, so they can spend more time with loved ones at home. It’s especially important at Christmas for families to be together – building happy memories.
  • Your support could lead to the next medical break-through!
    You’ll fund grants to get vital research projects off the ground. You’ll help our researchers turn discoveries in the lab into medical treatments to change lives and save lives.

With the help of supporters like you, we’ve already made incredible discoveries to give patients with end stage kidney disease the hope of a normal life.

SCGH researcher and consultant nephrologist, Dr Aron Chakera, is working to change the way we treat kidney failure. With the initial support of a research grant funded by people like you, he is working on a ground-breaking home testing method so patients can detect peritonitis—an infection—straight away.

It will help more patients, like Rebecca, to safely use at-home dialysis.

Aron explains, “The priority is always to improve outcomes for our patients. This new way of testing helps empower patients in terms of their own care, giving people control over their own treatment. It’s almost like a pregnancy test, it’s that easy. It means people can have the independence of at-home dialysis and spend more time with their family.”

Rebecca is now on the transplant list waiting for another kidney. With a long road of medical care ahead, it can make all the difference for Rebecca to know that discoveries are being made to improve her treatment options.

As Christmas approaches, she shared, “I find the new year period hard – another year of, ‘Ugh. This is still going on.’ But my strategy is to get through the day, then one day more.”

With the festive season upon us, I wish you and those around you a happy, safe and healthy Christmas and 2021. You’re truly making a difference to all West Australians – so thank you!

Please, Donate Today and support young families like Rebecca’s.