Briony Fahey, pictured with her medication, says the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital will help people with serious renal issues and diabetes.
Briony Fahey, pictured with her medication, says the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital will help people with serious renal issues and diabetes. Warren Lynam

'I thought I would die': Briony waits for organ donation

WHEN she heard the diagnosis, her body was deteriorating so quickly she thought she was going to die.

Currimundi's Briony Fahey was pregnant with her fourth child when her kidneys "started shutting down".

Her baby survived but was born prematurely at 31 weeks at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

She had kidney disease, following gestation diabetes she'd suffered from since her first child at 18, and would need dialysis within three years, doctors said.

Ms Fahey lasted seven, relying on public health services to get her through, but is now a regular renal dialysis outpatient at Caloundra Health Service (Caloundra hospital) while she waits for a transplant.

Each session lasts four-and-a-half hours and at three days a week it's the equivalent of a part-time job to undergo treatment.

When Ms Fahey first saw the Caloundra hospital facilities, she "wanted to run and hide". The thought of how her life was deteriorating was "too much", she said.

It took about a month of regular visits before her anxiety calmed down and the relief to her body after having dialysis clean her blood was huge, she said.

"When I did need it, it was there and it only took me about four weeks to feel right in the dialysis unit - not feel like I had a problem," she said.

Before that, she was "always tired".

"Just walking 20 metres or 30 metres, I'd be puffed and couldn't do it. But now I can.

"It's great. Now I feel better, it's got all the toxins out of my blood. I can do things, you know, like go to the beach with the girls.

"It was that bad at the end, it was affecting my kids life. They were at home doing nothing."

Ms Fahey had developed gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy at 18. In her most recent pregnancy, doctors performed a caesarean at 31 weeks.

"I was filled with fluid that much that when I had the caesar... they put the knife not even a centimetre into my belly and they had to jump back, there was all this water gushing out," she said.

It was as confronting to her as it was to them, but the hardest part of her illness was not the physical changes but the effects it had on her children.

She was hospitalised in Brisbane so her newborn could be cared for and she could be monitored and treated, but her younger two-year-old daughter had to stay with an aunt she'd never met for nine weeks.

"It was a big thing for her too. She'd never been away from me. All of a sudden she was in a strange place."

Ms Fahey said the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital would be "great" for people needing acute renal care.

When it opens next month Sunshine Coast University Hospital will have expanded renal dialysis services, particularly for acute cases.

Pregnant women whose children arrive from 28 weeks will be able to give birth at the new hospital, rather than being taken to Brisbane. Currently the Coast's hospitals can only help premature babies born from 32 weeks.


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