An eastern Ontario hospital says its existing dialysis machines can barely meet the demand to treat patients with kidney failure and the local health integration network is lobbying the province for 12 more machines.
The Renfrew Victoria Hospital has 14 dialysis stations to clean the blood of 130 patients whose kidneys can no longer do the job.
Hospital CEO Randy Penny says a hereditary condition that causes kidney failure is unusually common in the area, and demand for dialysis is growing at a rate of eight per cent a year.
Penny estimated that about 27 per cent of the hospital's dialysis patients have polycystic kidney disease, compared to a provincial average of six or seven per cent.
He said the centre needs to almost double in size in the next five years to keep up with demand.
Craig Dunbar, 36, spends four hours a day, three days a week at the Renfrew Victoria Hospital hooked up to a dialysis machine. He is waiting for a kidney transplant, but in the meantime, access to dialysis is literally a matter of life or death for him, he said.
Dr. Robert Cushman, head of the local health integration network, said he is pushing the province to help shorten the wait times by providing funding for new machines.
"We may come to the situation here… where we just can't provide the access that we need to," he said.
Renfrew and Ottawa are the only two centres within the Champlain Health Integration Network that offer dialysis.