March 6, 2015
Nurse takes on challenge of assisting kidney patients

A video which has gone viral on Facebook has given a Vincentian nurse the impetus to build an association that will create awareness of the plight of individuals living with kidney disease.

When Keyon St John, who graduated in 2012 from a Cuban university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, posted a video on Facebook {{more}}in February, he had no idea of the response that it would receive.

However, since it was posted, the video, which speaks about the hardships and expenses of persons living with kidney disease in St Vincent, St John has received several donations and was able to assist some patients.

“I’ve gotten three donations coming into me personally for three patients. Others have gotten donation from other persons. The money didn’t come directly to me but whenever anybody received anything, it was given to them and it was uploaded to Facebook so these persons abroad [can see that it] was delivered to the patient directly,” he explained.

For some time, the nurse has been able to solicit donations to help ease the financial burden of some kidney patients in need of dialysis treatment, under a Facebook page called “SVG Dialysis Fund”.

According to St John, who worked at St Vincent’s private dialysis clinic previously, one patient can spend up to $5,800 per month between dialysis treatment, medication, transportation and lab work.

He even noted that while hemodialysis, one of the more effective treatments, requires three sessions per week for maximum effect, most patients are doing the treatment only twice per week because of financial strains.

“I tried to seek help on their behalf so I started out transporting them. I was successful. I approached 20 companies and only five responded. That only lasted … March to August 2014,” St John told SEARCHLIGHT.

“Persons stopped donating and I couldn’t continue because it would have been a burden on me, having to buy gas, using my own money to buy gas because I’m not working.”

While some persons are willing to donate, the nurse revealed that they have expressed that they prefer to do so only to a registered body.

It is for this reason that St John, along with fellow dialysis nurse, Kamora Bynoe and several other individuals are in the process of registering the fund under the name “SVG Dialysis Association Inc.”

“When that’s done, we will get a bank account in its name so that everything can be legit. This association basically; our objective is to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease in St Vincent and the patient’s inability to financially maintain it,” he said.

Until then, St John explained that persons looking to donate to a patient can contact the fund through Facebook or a patient directly, if they know how to contact them.

The nurse is also encouraging patients who wish to receive help under the SVG Dialysis Fund to come forward.

“Inbox us there or if you are overseas, you can send the money via Western Union or Moneygram,” he said.

“I would like everybody to become aware of it and really understand that it is difficult for [patients] to maintain treatment. So far, there are five persons who want assistance. I cannot access the other patients at the clinic because I’m not allowed to go there. And I don’t know the others.”

In the near future, St John hopes to put on monthly musicals which will take place in different areas. He added that the Ministry of Health will also be a part of this initiative and will be on hand so that persons can pass by, make donations and also have their blood pressure checked and receive other pertinent information.

St John can be contacted at (784) 531- 0856 or [email protected](BK)