Non-profit Scharnier brings chronic kidney patients together in Torremolinos

On 4 May 2023, Scharnier departed Maria Middelares General Hospital with twenty-two kidney patients and about the same number of family members for a holiday in Torremolinos, Spain. During the trip, they had familiar faces to count on for their medical supervision: five specialised nurses and a nephrologist from the hospital accompanied the group. ‘We’re demonstrating that kidney patients can continue to travel, to push their limits. And we’re eager to get going, as they say.’

Scharnier serves as a link between the dialysis team, the kidney patient and the families of haemodialysis patients, for peritoneal dialysis patients and kidney patients alike. Scharnier organises all manner of activities to support and strengthen the solidarity between kidney patients, family members and the dialysis team. The patients' association organises a biennial trip to show that kidney patients can still live a normal life. 'Travel is also part of this’, clarifies dialysis nurse Viviane De Preester, 'many kidney patients hardly leave their familiar surroundings due to the need for nursing and medical care and for fear of having to call on unknown doctors and nurses. What’s more, the language barrier while abroad also plays a role.'

The trip obviously requires thorough preparation. For example, Viviane went prospecting in Torremolinos earlier this year. She mapped out a medical plan and activity programme, spoke to a travel agency experienced in travel for kidney patients and visited El Consul, a modern dialysis centre in Malaga. 'We bring our own medications, bandages and other specific first-aid supplies. Like in Belgium, patients attend dialysis three times a week for about four hours’, explains Dr Pascale Bernaert, president of Scharnier. The patients are monitored and cared for by their trusted nephrologist and familiar nurses. In the remaining free time, everyone can participate in a variety of organised outings and activities. The programme includes visits to Nerja and Frigiliana, Torremolinos, Cordoba, Ronda, Marbella and Puerto Banus.

To sponsor this trip, the (para)medical team has taken part in the ATS Run in Merelbeke for several years. ‘That [the run] raised €5,000 the other day, for which we’re very grateful’, concludes Dr Maarten De Wilde.

The organising team is eager to leave
The organising team is eager to leave