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Five-star dialysis treatment in Malta

I simply had to advertise the fact that my haemodialysis sessions during August at St Luke's Hospital's Renal Unit were totally trouble-free and a real joy.

On July 7, 1977, I had to depart from Malta after losing both kidneys due to an incurable rare illness at the age of 20. This was undoubtedly a tragedy in itself; however, not ever being able to return home left me completely isolated. I coped by rejecting my former persona in Malta and focused on what I could do disregarding what I could not. Never one to shy away from adventure, I adopted my new lifestyle in the most positive manner possible. I may have had times of loneliness but also many magical ones of excitement by making the most of my limited prospects in the UK. Thirty long years have passed since then and following a stroke, a couple of heart attacks, numerous surgical procedures, a  parathroidectomy, bi-lateral nephrectomy, several fistulas, a metallic heart valve and even a bovine graft, I was finally given the all clear to dialyse in Malta thanks to the EU membership agreement, my current stable condition and the patience of Tony Bugeja and his great team!

Now, married with three wonderful children, our stay was overwhelming, so much to take in, many old friends to look up and so many improvements around the island. I am so proud of the island's greener and much more user-friendly look. Long may "more courteous driving", "smooth-surfaced roads" and "better-placed road signs" continue to improve, while "nationwide progress" remains Malta's continuous long-term goal! The islands of Malta and Gozo are undoubtedly unique and such a joy to discover.

The greatest discovery of all was the Renal Dialysis Unit at St Luke's Hospital. From the consultant to the Nursing Officer Tony Bugeja to all the truly excellent renal nurses and the unit's auxiliaries, each one professional, focused and helpful. Maltese Renal Nurses are up-to-date with every aspect of dialysis treatment from anti-coagulation blood tests to the variety of specific dialysers and needles available. In my experience as a patient, a health inspector and a medical professional, I have found this atmosphere to be truly unique. The caring and relaxed staff are more professional than many of the other units that I have visited since 1977!

I salute and cannot thank the staff enough, their genuine warm and friendly Maltese character shines through, which is paramount in avoiding depression in long-term chronic illnesses and gives the unit a healthier atmosphere for both patients and staff alike. The professionalism, extensive knowledge and unfaltering care is unsurpassed. Some of our staff here in the UK can learn so much from the Maltese approach and nursing culture. "Tassew prosit u grazzi hafna ghal kollox."

I truly hope to be back soon and trust that any tourist hesitant of dialysing in Malta will take heed from an old pro like myself as I promise that they will be most pleasantly surprised. To all Maltese/Gozitan patients waiting for a transplant or enduring the tiresome three-day week ordeal, I say "kuragg". If my feeble body has survived for 30 years surely there must be hope for all! Positive psychology is the key to easing many ailments, not always easy to maintain but taking one day at a time and avoiding stressful situations works wonders.

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