'Doesn't make sense': Bush patients stranded in search of dialysis

Calls for dialysis in rural Queensland as Longreach couple stranded by treatment


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By the time they drive home, it's time to head back for treatment.

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Lyndell and Neil Pokorny during a day trip to Yeppoon from their base in Rockhampton.

Lyndell and Neil Pokorny during a day trip to Yeppoon from their base in Rockhampton.

Lyndell and Neil Pokorny are stranded 700 kilometres from home and have little hope of getting back any time soon.

About two and half months ago the couple left Longreach for a holiday, which was cut short when Lyndell's kidney function began to deteriorate and she had to be treated in Rockhampton.

They have been living Rockhampton ever since, with Lyndell required to undergo lifesaving renal dialysis for five hours three times a week to purge toxins from her failing kidneys.

There are no renal dialysis machines in Longreach, and the 1400 kilometre round trip from Rockhampton and back is incredibly demanding on Lyndell, Mr Pokorny said.

"We own our own house in Longreach, but we've just had to close the door," he said.

"We haven't been able to get back there for two months. We'd have to drive 700 kilometres just to turn around and drive another 700 kilometres so Lyndell can get back for treatment.

"It just doesn't make sense."

The couple have had to quit their jobs in Longreach, Neil as a courier and Lyndell helping with the school crossing signs.

At the moment they are living in a small cabin at a Rockhampton caravan park, which Rockhampton Hospital is paying for.

Even this situation could change if Lyndell is hospitalised, Mr Pokorny said.

"We don't know how long they are going to be able to support us with accommodation.

"If she gets sick and goes into the hospital, I've got to pay for accommodation out of my own pocket."

The couple are stuck in limbo, and with renal dialysis machines unlikely to come to Longreach without a major shift in state government policy, the best case scenario is to sit and wait for a kidney transplant.

"You can't plan anything in the future," Mr Pokorny said.

"You can't do anything other than stay here in Rockhampton and get treatment."

Although they were starting to make friends among other patients, it was tough going through treatment without the support of family and friends, Mr Pokorny said. 

The Pokornys would like to see a renal dialysis machine installed in Longreach.

The provision of renal dialysis services in outback Queensland has become an increasingly heated topic, with Gregory MP Lachlan Millar vocal in his calls for dialysis services to be brought to the bush.

"We already have families from western Queensland that have had to relocate to Rockhampton or Townsville while leaving their family at home," Mr Millar said.

"Renal dialysis, while it's not an epidemic out here, it is a growing concern."

The cost of providing dialysis for a relatively small number of people has been cited as the major barrier stopping renal dialysis in rural areas. 

Mr Pokorny said he knew of at least two or three others from Longreach in a similar position, with one patient receiving dialysis treatment in Rockhampton for the last three years.

"We know all the other people who are going through treatment here," he said.

"We are all going through the same thing.

"The number seems to be growing. I wish it wasn't."

The office of Health Minister Dr Steven Miles did not respond to a request for comment.

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