'It could be fatal, this is a desperate worry': Cork woman on dialysis calls for urgent change to Covid-19 vaccine priority list

'It could be fatal, this is a desperate worry': Cork woman on dialysis calls for urgent change to Covid-19 vaccine priority list

Carol Rumley is calling for changes to the government's vaccine priority list

A CORK woman, who said she feels like she is risking her life to undergo dialysis, has added her voice to calls for urgent changes to the Covid-19 vaccine priority list.

Carol Rumley from Bandon said that she is confined to her home, except to attend hospital three times a week.

The 53-year-old said that while the hospital staff are “incredible”, and everything is made as safe as possible when she attends, she remains fearful of potentially contracting Covid-19. 

She said that a Covid-19 diagnosis for her could prove fatal and is a terrifying prospect.

Carol and others in the same medically vulnerable category are currently placed at number seven on the government’s vaccine priority list.

The situation has sparked outrage as up to 5,000 people in Ireland on dialysis or post-transplant treatments see little hope in sight.

There is also mounting concern over the mortality rate in this category, with one recent study suggesting that the 28-day case fatality rate in dialysis patients with Covid-19 is 25%. 

The Irish Kidney Association, in a letter to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, recently appealed for changes to the priority list.

However, they say that to-date there has been no change.

Carol was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease at 27 years old.

Up to that point, she had been suffering from extreme and recurring kidney infections.

Serious complications from home dialysis meant she had to continue her treatment in hospital.

A failed transplant means she now has a high level of antibodies, making the possibility of a transplant extremely challenging.

While travelling from West Cork for hospital visits was initially an inconvenience, the former carer said she feels it now poses a real threat to her life.

The Bandon local said she has no idea when a vaccination will be available to her.

In the meantime, she is confined to her home, apart from dialysis appointments.

Even shopping is unsafe which means her brother now has to purchase all her groceries.

“Contracting Covid-19 would be very serious,” she said.

“It could be fatal. You don’t want this for yourself or for any other patient. This is a desperate worry. We are number seven on the list which is quite a bit down. I thought we would be further up, given that many dialysis patients are in hospital three times a week. You are always at risk no matter how sterile an environment is. The dialysis is an added worry but it’s something I have to do. The alternative would not be very attractive.”

She said that time is of the essence now. She also said: “Since the beginning, it’s been an anxious time for high-risk patients. This has been going on since March but it feels like a lifetime. Time is of the essence now...The staff at CUH [Cork University Hospital] are incredible and everything is made as safe as possible. However, they can only do what they can.”

She said that reverting to home dialysis is not an option.

She said: “I was very sick and quite honestly I couldn’t go back. The hospital has become my second home.”

She explained how transplant recipients and dialysis patients are feeling powerless.

“The sooner people can get this, the better,” she said of the vaccination.

“Even if there was some clarification or realistic timeline we wouldn’t be so stressed. The pressure of dialysis is enough but this is an added worry. I am genuinely terrified of going to hospital but if I didn’t go I wouldn’t be here. There is nothing we can do.”

To find out more about the Irish Kidney Association, visit their website or call (01) 620 5306. 

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