A KIDNEY dialysis patient says she is lucky to be alive after her machine was “cooking” her blood.
Diane Marles (38), of The Rise in Swinton, needs home dialysis six times a week — and has since 1995.
She has to insert two large needles into her arm, allowing the machine to pump her blood out, clean it and put it back into her body.
Single mum Diane usually does this without any help — a risky procedure at the best of times.
But when the machine does not work properly, the results can be life-threatening.
“My old machine was playing up, said Diane, “so the NHS technicians gave me a new one on August 1.
“The problems started straight away. Normally my body cools when I’m having dialysis, but I got very hot.
“The next day it happened again. By the third day, I was thinking that something really wasn’t right.”
Diane said she called Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital and spoke to a nurse, who said she may have had an infection.
But the persistent patient was not so sure, as she felt fine when not on dialysis.
“I said I thought it might be the machine, but she said it wouldn’t be,” Diane said.
“I was told that the machine would alarm if there was a problem — it performs a little MOT on itself every time it is switched on.
“But by the end of the week I was in such a state. I was only doing half a treatment at a time, as I just couldn’t stand a full one.
“It was making me very poorly. My blood pressure was dropping so low I was nearly passing out.”
She added: “My ten-year-old son was off school, but he had to stay with relatives. I couldn’t do anything because I was stuck in bed.
“I was crying to my nurse on the phone, asking her to please sort it out, but she was adamant that it wasn’t the machine.”
Diane went online and did some research about her machine — a B Braun Dialog Plus.
“I pressed a few buttons and found that it was working at 40 deg C,” she said. “I took a photo and when I went to hospital the next day, I showed it to the technician.”
The technician took apart Diane’s machine and was startled by what he found inside, she claims.
“He said he had never seen anything like it. He said it was all broken inside.
“He said it was full of brown gunk, which had been going into my body.
“Had I been someone more frail, I’m sure I wouldn’t have survived. It’s just as well I’ve got no other conditions and I’ve got my wits about me.
“If it had carried on, I could have lost consciousness and it could have killed me.”
Diane expressed her disgust to the hospital and demanded an apology, but said she had not received one this week.
“This machine is my lifeline,” she said. “My life is in their hands, but one of the nurses was laughing about how the machine was ‘cooking’ me.
“I said if you’re going to laugh about it, at least wait until I’ve left the room, because I don’t think this is funny — it’s disgusting.”
Sarah Jenkins, Clinical Director Renal Services at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were very sorry to hear about Ms Marles recent experience and we have reassured her that at no point did the minor technical issue cause a risk to her dialysis treatment.
"The issue concerned a small amount of residue on a sensor which does not come into contact with the patient.
"There are safety features built into the machine that prevent the blood from overheating to a level that causes damage."
She added: "None of the other machines used by the renal unit have subsequently been found to have the same fault.
"When Ms Marles informed us about her symptoms we also carried out a range of blood and other tests to explore if there were any other factors which could be causing her symptoms."