News & Events

Manitoba Organ and Tissue Donation Task Force’s Report

Manitoba Renal Program (MRP) is pleased to see the release of the Manitoba Organ and Tissue Donation Task Force’s report this week and appreciated the opportunity to participate in the groundwork that helped frame these recommendations. Since 2010, the number of people needing life-sustaining dialysis has increased by more than 35 per cent. 

“When dialysis patients move on to receive a transplant, we are very happy to see that outcome. If there is any way to increase those numbers, we fully support it.” says Dr. Mauro Verrelli, MRP medical director. “Unfortunately kidney transplant is not an option for every dialysis patient and the rate of chronic kidney disease is growing in Manitoba.

“For that reason, the report’s recommendation to explore a provincial surveillance system focused on early detection of organ disease is very important. Ultimately, we want to have less people with kidney failure and do whatever is possible to delay or prevent the progression of kidney disease. Early detection and treatment is a way to help achieve this.

“Alongside early detection programs, we need to ensure all Manitobans have access to the appropriate supports and resources they need to facilitate healthy living including primary health care, healthy foods and more. We look forward to continuing work with our partners in health care, research and government on achieving the goal of a reduced burden of kidney disease in Manitoba.”

MRP encourages everyone to sign up to be an organ donor at and to make sure they visit their doctor for regular yearly checkups to find out how their kidneys are doing. To learn more about kidney health visit


MRP Using Innovative New Peritoneal Dialysis Equipment

In the fall of 2017, Manitoba Renal Program began piloting the use of a new home peritoneal dialysis (PD) machine. The new machine operates overnight while users sleep and has features such as a large touch screen, visual aids and voice prompts as well as the ability to community remotely with nurses in Winnipeg. The machine uses cellular towers to send treatment information to Winnipeg PD programs at Seven Oaks General Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital.

For patients like Jeremy Starr, this new equipment is a game changer. After losing his vision to complications of diabetes, doing twin-bag peritoneal dialysis became a challenge. Jeremy started on the new machine last fall and is thrilled to be able to manage most of his home dialysis treatments himself in addition to having his days free now that he only dialyzes at night.

Jeremy lives in Sagkeeng First Nation about 130 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The remote-monitoring ability of the equipment reassures both Jeremy and his care team at Seven Oaks General Hospital. They know he can be closely monitored to ensure he is getting the best quality dialysis treatments and his health is stable. Jeremy recently talked to CBC News and Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network about his use of this new machine and the positive impact it has had on his life.

CBC:Dialysis machine that can be monitored remotely a ‘life-saving friend’ for Sagkeeng man

APTN: New dialysis machine gives man freedom to go home safely

I-KHealth Analyzing Approaches to Rural & Remote First Nations Kidney Health Care

A five-year research project focusing on the impact of kidney disease in rural and remote First Nations communities in Manitoba has received $1.5 million in funding from the federal government’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The ‘Improving responsiveness across the continuum of kidney health care in rural and remote Manitoba First Nation communities’ (I-KHealth) project will be led by experts from Nanaandawewigamig’s (First Nations Health & Social Secretariat of Manitoba) Diabetes Integration Project (DIP), Ongomiizwin Research, Manitoba Renal Program, the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.

I-KHealth will deliver several studies which will review, evaluate and strategize kidney health approaches for First Nations individuals living in rural and remote areas of the province.

While one in 10 Canadians has some degree of kidney disease, for First Nations people in Manitoba that number is one in three. Manitoba has some of the highest rates of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) across Canada which is contributing to a growing population of people requiring life-sustaining dialysis. In Manitoba, the dialysis patient population has grown by more than 35 per cent over the past eight years.



While the project’s researchers know there are a variety of reasons for the disparity – such as low socio-economic status, institutional racism and the continued effects of colonization as well as remoteness – they want to explore tangible ways to improve kidney health outcomes for First Nations people in rural and remote areas.

 “We all know the health status of Indigenous people when it comes to chronic diseases, and access to primary health care is a huge issue for isolated and remote communities,” explains co-principal investigator Caroline Chartrand.

The project has four components including mapping patient journeys for First Nations people living in rural and remote areas, assessing primary health care’s role in kidney health, evaluating and developing appropriate kidney health education and exploring alternative models of dialysis treatment delivery.

“It’s important to look at kidney health care in the context of existing systems to determine exactly what we can do better to slow or stop the devastating impact of kidney failure for First Nations communities in Manitoba,” explains co-principal investigator Dr. Josée Lavoie.

While a diagnosis of kidney disease is life-changing, a diagnosis in an earlier stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can lead to interventions that help manage the disease and reduce the possibility of progressing to later stages and the need for dialysis.

“There is a lot we can do to manage kidney health and delay dialysis when there is still a fair amount of kidney function left. What we are seeing, though, is people coming in with no prior contact with the kidney health team and significant loss of kidney function needing urgent dialysis.  At that point options are limited and the system has failed these patients,” explains co-principal investigator Dr. James Zacharias. “We know dialysis patients experience huge challenges in quality of life and some have to relocate entirely for dialysis treatment. The goal is to work alongside Indigenous patients and communities, as well as Indigenous health service providers and researchers, to find realistic and appropriate ways to address system issues and reduce the burden of kidney disease in rural and remote First Nations communities.”

One of IK-Health’s studies will look at what happened to patients who access health-care services with  ESKD, and who have little knowledge of their declining kidney function. Areas that will be explored include missed opportunities for prevention of ESKD, interactions with health-care systems prior to an ESKD diagnosis, as well as experiences with and access to primary health care.

DIP will lead another study that examines the journeys of patients who are diagnosed as being at low to medium risk for future kidney problems and how primary care or screening programs affect outcomes. This will include looking at the differences in availability of care and programs in various areas of the province and also discussing factors or barriers faced in accessing those resources.

“Upstream prevention efforts are key as the evidence points to the need to screen, triage and treat Indigenous people at the point of care and identify high risk clients to prevent the downstream costs of dialysis,” explains Chartrand. “Through a partnership with key specialty areas, DIP has successfully demonstrated the ability to refer clients directly to specialists bypassing the primary care system.”

The third study will evaluate existing education programs on kidney health both in communities and for kidney health clinic patients in the renal program. The study will look at how education is framed and delivered, and utilize First Nations patient knowledge to assess current resources and explore opportunities for improvement.

The last study of the project is exploring alternative models of dialysis delivery. Existing assisted peritoneal dialysis models will be evaluated and explored for feasibility to operate in rural and remote First Nations.

Another outcome of the project includes incorporating results into a Manitoba First Nations Kidney Health Strategy which will be developed in partnership with all stakeholders. The strategy will envision improved access and kidney care including proposed concrete care pathways tailored to the needs of First Nations communities that capitalize on the strengths of existing programs and services, such as Nanaandawewigamig’s DIP, Ongomiizwin Research and the Manitoba Renal Program.

Nurses Week 2018

MRP Nurses work closely with patients throughout a life-changing journey of being diagnosed with kidney disease and living with kidney failure. Our whole renal team works tirelessly to ensure patient care is the priority. From educating patients entering our program and helping patients pick a dialysis modality to providing care several times a week – nurses are integral in the experience and well-being of our patients.

“We want to thank our nursing teams and our broader nephrology health-care teams for making such a difference in the lives our patients. In this particular year, with a growing patient population and increased demand for in-centre dialysis, we want to let our teams know that your efforts are appreciated.”

– Betty Lou Burke – Program Director & Dr. Mauro Verrelli, Medical Director, Manitoba Renal Program

Nursing week celebrations are underway at several hospitals in Manitoba. Thanks again to all our nurses and nephrology health-care providers! Want to give a shout out to a nurse in your life? Post in the comments below!

March Campaign

This past March we launched our Kidney Coach campaign in partnership with The Kidney Foundation of Canada Manitoba Branch. The Kidney Coach website encourages using the ‘kidney health playbook’ which details eight ways to keep kidneys healthy. We also encouraged people to submit their own ‘kidney coach’ photos and use hashtags on social media. We received some news coverage from CityTV and CTV Morning Live and ran a range of advertising in radio, print, transit buses and online. We also did booths at Portage Place Mall and Health Sciences Centre where we engaged with more than 150 people about kidney health. The Kidney Coach website was visited more than 4,500 times and online ads and posts received more than 1 million impressions and 5,000 engagements. Print and radio ads reached dozens of communities across Canada. We are hoping the Kidney Coach helped us get messages about keeping kidneys healthy out to the community. Early diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease can help keep kidneys healthy longer or delay progression of kidney disease with a goal of preventing dialysis whenever possible.

  • June  2018
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