Help for kidney patients struggling to cope with MCO


Kidney patients receiving treatment at the Tzu-Chi dialysis centre in Logan Road, Penang.

FOR the past 12 years, Chew Kean Hong has been faithfully undergoing dialysis treatment thrice weekly.

And even with the movement control order (MCO) in effect, the 42-year-old man would wake up as early as 8am to get ready for his dialysis at noon at the Tzu Chi Dialysis Centre in Logan Road, Penang.

“After having my breakfast, I will wait for the Rapid mobility van to pick me up from my house in Jelutong.

“I undergo dialysis three times a week and each treatment takes about four hours.

“After my dialysis, I’ll wash up, get my dinner and hit the sack as I’ll be exhausted, ” he said.

Chew is wheelchair-bound as his knees are weak after developing a bone disease due to dialysis.

“I understand that I’m in the high-risk group during this Covid-19 outbreak, therefore, I wear a face mask most of the time and practise social distancing. I also clean my hands very often, ” he said.

A Tzu Chi member spraying disinfectant to sanitise wheelchairs used by kidney patients receiving treatment at the Tzu-Chi dialysis centre.A Tzu Chi member spraying disinfectant to sanitise wheelchairs used by kidney patients receiving treatment at the Tzu-Chi dialysis centre.

Chew said he started adopting a vegetarian diet after volunteers from the Penang Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Society Malaysia prepared rice boxes for him and his family.

“Since then, I feel more energetic and do not get tired easily, ” he said.

As for retiree Choo Ah Goo, 67, she first started dialysis more than four years ago.

“We have to undergo our treatment even during the MCO to stay healthy.

“I wake up at 5am on days I go for dialysis as a car will pick me up at 6.30am from my house in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam.

“I will be tired after the treatment but luckily, the volunteers here pack rice for lunch and dinner for my husband and I during the MCO as they do not want us to get exposed to the outside environment, ” she said.

Choo’s husband Oon Swee Hock, 69, said he lost his job as a cleaner at a school due to the MCO.

“We were struggling financially as I lost my source of income.

Khoo (right) handing over vegetarian lunch boxes to Choo and other patients receiving dialysis treatment at the Tzu-Chi dialysis centre.Khoo (right) handing over vegetarian lunch boxes to Choo and other patients receiving dialysis treatment at the Tzu-Chi dialysis centre.

“We are grateful that the society provides my wife with free dialysis treatment, gives us a one-month living expenses subsidy and also free home-cooked meals, ” he added.

M. Sankaramarayanan, 53, who is jobless, has been undergoing dialysis for the past 20 years.

“I wake up at 5am to buy breakfast for my family before leaving home at 6.45am for my dialysis treatment.

“After treatment, I will ride home and rest as I will be too tired by then. I feel weaker during the MCO as I could not exercise outdoors.

“My family and I live on Socso allowance and I am thankful that Tzu Chi gives rice to my family and some pocket money, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Penang Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Society Malaysia commissioner Khoo Boo Leong said the society believes in three principles — gratitude, respect and love.

“We treat the patients like our family and we feel comfortable communicating with each other.

“We provide free checkup for our dialysis patients, whereby the nephrologist will decide on what is best to supplement the patients’ health.

“We also support the patients’ children’s education so that they can be educated and secure careers to lift themselves out of poverty and be financially independent, ” he said.

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