Kidney patients in Paro now need not worry about transportation to travel to Thimphu for treatment. They can avail themselves of the free bus service donated by a private individual. Kidney patients in Paro go to Thimphu for dialysis since the treatment is not available in the district.
The bus service will provide free transportation to about 17 kidney patients in Paro. The patients have to travel to the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu twice a week for dialysis. Dialysis is the procedure to clean the blood by removing excess water and toxins when the kidneys stop working properly. It is done by diverting the blood to a machine.
Patients say finding transportation is not only hard but also costly.
Kinzang Wangchuk, a kidney patient, goes to Thimphu by bus which he says is not very expensive, but returning back is difficult. “When we return home, we can’t catch the bus service. The bus departs in the afternoon but our treatment gets done only in the evening. So we have to find a taxi, which is expensive.”
Meanwhile, Choki is optimistic the bus service will help them reach the hospital on time. “It is sometimes difficult to find a taxi, and we get late for our treatment. The bus service will help us get to the hospital on time.”
The bus was donated by Tshering Tobgay, a hotelier in Paro. He says after seeing some of his neighbours who are kidney patients struggling to find transportation, especially during the lockdowns, he wanted to help out.
“Initially, I wanted to help set up a dialysis unit at the Paro hospital. But the machines have to be imported, and that is difficult right now due to the pandemic,” said Tshering. “So, I thought this bus would help ease their troubles, at least for now.”
Tshering is now working together with the Bhutan Kidney Foundation to procure the machine.
Tashi Namgay of the Bhutan Kidney Foundation says they are also in talks with the Ministry of Health. “We are trying to get the support of the Health Ministry. The machine will need proper space and technical experts to operate them.”
Currently, only hospitals in Thimphu, Monggar, Gelephu, Phuentshogling, and Wangdue Phodrang have kidney dialysis facilities.
Namgay Wangchuk, Paro
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen