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August 17, 2017 | News, Staff News

Check out this image from back in 1975 when a self-care dialysis unit was opened at Winnipeg General Hospital. The unit was located on Bannatyne and trained patients to do their own treatments. Manitoba has offered dialysis services since the 1960s.

 
Dr. Ash Thomson was a pioneer in bringing dialysis treatment to Manitoba. Often referred to as the ‘father of nephrology’ in Manitoba, Dr. Thomson actually built a dialysis machine. Here is an exert from his obituary published in the Winnipeg Free Press on January 19, 2013:

Ashley’s work for the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) was to treat mainly ICU patients with acute renal failure. At the time no dialysis machines existed in Manitoba. Undeterred, he built his own in 1954, and in 1957/1958 the first Hemodialysis in Manitoba took place, followed by the Chronic Dialysis program in 1963, Central Dialysis Unit Health Sciences Centre 1967, Transplant Program 1969, and Home Care Dialysis 1972.

In 1969 Ashley was instrumental in the formation of the Manitoba Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada. Through all the years, coffee with the crew from the Kidney Foundation remained a regular event dear to his heart. Ashley’s legacy is reflected in his patients. He was able to provide others with a new lease on life. Many of his former patients enjoy full lives today; some after as many as 35 years post-transplant. Although Ashley retired in 1984, he remained active and until recently, attended rounds at Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospitals.


Here is another exert written by Dr. Thomson where he discusses a time when they helped patients make a ‘dialysis bus’ that patients took to Florida?!

In the late 60’s we began serious training for self-care dialysis. We had become impressed by the ability of individual patients to become proficient, not only in learning the techniques of dialysis but also learning how to puncture their own arterio venous fistulae. Indeed, they frequently became much better at this technique than their instructors. Once learned they had no need of a helper. The procedure was truly ‘self­ care’. They learned the importance of fluid control and their medical regime. During the period 1973-75 39 completed the training program. Nine of those completing the program remained in the self-care area, twelve went to home dialysis and 8 received a transplant at some time during or after their training program. Nine failed to complete the training and returned to central dialysis.

The most remarkable of the self-care individuals was probably Nadine Jenkins, a school teacher from Selkirk. Shortly after mastering the technique she joined class confreres who were planning a trip to Russia. I was unable to locate an absolute promise of help but there were three individuals on dialysis in Russia. Nadine assembled what she required to maintain her vascular access and was successful in using Russian equipment. She so impressed a Russian physician that he accompanied her around Moscow and other centers. On return to Canada Nadine continued to travel to many areas always conducting her own dialysis procedures. Several others on chronic dialysis in the self-care mode wishing to go on holidays obtained a large bus which we equipped with a dialysis apparatus and suitable storage facilities. This allowed a trip to Florida on two occasions. Finally the rising price of gasoline to to feed a 400 cc engine became too much for most patients.

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