Diabetes the leading cause of kidney failure in Guyana 


Patients diagnosed with diabetes are more at risk of suffering from kidney failure, Dr. Hemchand Barran, a nephrologist at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) revealed. Diabetes is the leading cause for kidney failure in Guyana.

“Seventy per cent of our patients approximately, end up with kidney disease and about half of those end up on dialysis because of diabetes,” Dr. Barran revealed during a press conference held at GPHC on Friday.

He said that there are currently 200 patients on dialysis across the country accessing outpatient care, while there are 10 to 15 patients hospitalised. All of these patients need kidney transplants.

“The age category for us with the most kidney failure is 30 to 50 years old and then I could go a bit broader maybe 45 to 65 years,” Dr. Barran revealed while explaining that more men than women are affected.

Signs and symptoms of kidney failure include swollen feet, abdomen and face; decrease in urine output and in advanced stages decreased appetite, weight loss, difficulty sleeping and nausea.

“It is sometimes difficult to diagnosis or pick up when you have kidney disease because it goes silent in the early stages,” Dr. Barran explained.

Dr Hemchand Barran (Photo: News Room/March 4, 2022)

According to Dr. Barran the best way to diagnosis kidney failure is by routine check-ups.

“If you are known to be for example a diabetic it is recommended that doctors check you at least yearly.”

To counter this health issue, Dr. Barran said they first have to deal with the risk factors that contribute to kidney disease such as diabetes. He said diabetes is currently the biggest challenge.

Through the Ministry of Health’s Chronic Disease Programme, they will be increasing screening for kidney diseases with the hopes of early detection.

“You can reverse kidney failure depends on the cause of it, there are some instances where you can’t,” Dr. Barran said.

While the legislation has been passed to allow for human organ and tissue transplants, Dr. Boland Persaud, who is attached to the Nephrology Department at GPHC, said that they are still working out a cadaveric system.

“We are working on it in terms of having that cadaveric system in place; we are also working on getting our own transplant lab to facilitate cross matching,” Dr. Persaud explained.

Dr. Boland Persaud (Photo: News Room/March 4, 2022)

For a kidney transplant to be done, a cross-match test is required to determine if the donor and the recipient are compatible. Currently, there are no resources for this type of testing here; samples are sent overseas, which takes time and is costly.

“We are working on getting the necessary equipment to do the testing so I am not sure all and all when that is going to be available,” Dr. Persaud said.

Once up and running, the cadaveric system is expected to save numerous lives and reduce the high cost for patients on dialysis.

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