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Kidney transplant patients praise Tallaght programme

 Sarah Williams stands in a hospital corridor smiling directly ahead



“It’s been great – I even started sea swimming. I am more confident, and the regular checks with the team at Tallaght Hospital keep me on my toes,” according to Sarah Williams, reflecting on a new lifestyle programme for kidney transplant recipients at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH).

Those who attended the new programme, which features diet and exercise classes, said it not only improved their overall physical health but also boosted their confidence.

Sarah, who is 14 years post kidney transplant, says the new programme came at a time when she “needed it most for my physical and mental health. It has been great - the combination of exercise and nutrition is so important.”

The eight-week programme of virtual classes – two a week took place online. They included exercise classes led by a physiotherapist and education sessions led by a dietitian.

Expressing his delight, Simon Appleby, who is nine years post kidney transplant, explained that this was the first time he had participated in such a programme:

“It was great. The focus on diet and fitness means I am a lot healthier than I was and can do a lot more. It also gave me the confidence to try new things. I have taken up yoga and am doing a lot more walking. I can see a marked improvement.”

According to Professor Peter Lavin, Consultant Nephrologist (renal/kidney-related services) and lead Clinical Director at TUH, chronic kidney disease affects “over 11% of patients in the Irish health system. There are currently 5,000 adults and children requiring treatment by dialysis or kidney transplantation in Ireland. This is an increase of nearly 50% in 13 years. I want to compliment the team at TUH for introducing this important initiative. It is showing real benefits not just for the physical but also the mental health of our patients.” 

Oonagh Smith, Clinical Specialist Renal Dietitian at TUH, explained that “the healthy eating element of the programme took the form of a 15-20 minute discussion at the start of each session. As part of this, participants were encouraged to ask any nutrition-related questions, with a different topic discussed each time. We looked at what constitutes a healthy diet for people with kidney disease, as well as menu planning and behaviour change techniques.”

Cliona Barrett, Senior Renal Physiotherapist, noted that “the fitness classes were made up of both aerobic and strengthening exercises and took place virtually for 45 minutes - twice a week. The exercise section was adapted to the home environment. We knew there would not be any equipment required except for resistance bands for strengthening exercises. Our patients worked to a moderate intensity level during the classes. They adapted well and really benefitted overall.”