SUPPORT: Members of the Irish Kidney Association’s Kerry Branch pictured ahead of their now postponed walk: Noreen Buckley, Stephen Byrne, David Clifford (Kerry GAA star), Theresa Looney (Patient Support Officer Kerry Branch IKA) and Brendan Herbert (Chairman Kerry Branch IKA).

By Sean Moriarty

Vulnerable kidney patients that need to attend urgent dialysis treatment in University Hospital Kerry (UHK) are one of the hardest people in society hit by the new movement and social distancing restrictions.

Dialysis patients attend the Tralee hospital three days a week. Some groups attend the service on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while others attend Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Killarney-based patients would usually share a taxi to get them too and from the hospital but the Irish Kidney Association’s Kerry Branch Patient Support Officer Theresa Looney says this no longer possible.

“Their immune system is very vulnerable, they risk cross-contamination from other patients,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

Patients will now have to rely on family members to ferry them to and from UHK. Cars will have to be disinfected before each leg of the journey adding time and stress to an already difficult situation.

Theresa also warned that vital life-saving transplant operations are likely to be suspended as less and less medical staff and hospital beds become available as the crisis escalates – putting even more lives at risk.

The local branch was forced to cancel its fundraising walk in Killarney National Park tomorrow (Sunday), but the public is encouraged to support the work of the Irish Kidney Association and can Free text KIDNEY to 50300 to donate €4 and the Irish Kidney Association will receive a minimum of €3.60.