Every 2 days, 9 lose use of kidneys

Renal failure patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia National Kidney Foundation dialysis centre.
Renal failure patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia National Kidney Foundation dialysis centre. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Singapore leads the world in the percentage of kidney failures caused by diabetes, according to the United States Renal Data System's report last year.

Local data shows that up to 2000, diabetes accounted for less than half the kidney failures here. Today, two in three cases are caused by diabetes.

In 2014, 1,671 people suffered from end-stage renal disease. This means that every two days, nine people here lose the use of their kidneys. For six of these nine people, their renal disease is caused by uncontrolled diabetes.

Among those with end-stage kidney disease, 57 received transplants and 1,150 started dialysis treatment. There is no information on the rest, the majority of whom had probably died before they could start dialysis to clean their blood of the poisons their kidneys could no longer manage.

About one in 10 kidney failure patients die within the first year of dialysis. The median survival is 6.8 years for those on haemodialysis and 3.8 years for those on peritoneal dialysis.

According to the US Renal Data System, Singapore is third in the world after Taiwan and Japan for the number of patients on dialysis per million people. One reason for that is the low rate of kidney transplants here.

Singapore has only one transplant patient for every 100 people on dialysis. Norway, which has the best transplant ratio, has one transplant for every five people on dialysis.

For every one million people, Singapore has 1,519 on dialysis while Norway has only 261.

Salma Khalik

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 19, 2017, with the headline 'Every 2 days, 9 lose use of kidneys'. Print Edition | Subscribe