Vital Signs campaign now underway

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Priority medical equipment includes items for new dialysis unit

The new dialysis unit currently under construction at PCH.

SUMMERSIDE - Garth Schurman and his family have seen more than their fair share of kidney troubles over the years. 

In 1990, Garth lost one kidney to cancer. At that time, it was determined his remaining kidney was operating at 50 per cent and would deteriorate over time. 

That time came five years ago, and Garth has been on dialysis at Summerset Manor ever since. 

But, the Schurmans' kidney issues were not limited to Garth. His daughter Tara also had kidney problems. 

Tara's kidneys stopped developing at a very young age. She eventually found out they were undersized, and, in time, she would need a transplant. 

With little notice, last year Tara joined her father in hemodialysis at Summerset Manor.

But her cloud had a silver lining.

As luck would have it, her mother, Sharon, was a match. In October 2010, mother and daughter shared a kidney transplant.

And more help is on the way for the Schurmans, and other patients like them in Prince County.

Each year through the Vital Signs equipment campaign, a list of priority medical equipment is identified and approved by the Prince County Hospital's medical advisory board. The list of needed medical equipment for 2011 totals $1,118,512.

This year, the PCH Foundation is also tasked with raising over $240,000 to outfit the new dialysis unit, currently under construction at the hospital.

Presently housed at Summerset Manor, dialysis service in Summerside is being replaced with a larger and more contemporary unit at the hospital.

According to Dr. Bruce Jones, a nephrologist and advocate for dialysis in Prince County, "Hemodialysis is a bridge to kidney transplant. The endgame is always a transplant if the patient is suitable. If the patient is not suitable, it's dialysis for as long as dialysis will last."

Schurman said the move of the hemodialysis unit to PCH is a great convenience. 

"If anything happens to you, you're right there. The new unit will be great.  I hope it gets up and running soon.  It will be a lot better for patients and staff," he said "The community really needs to know what dialysis is all about, because it (kidney disease) is life-threatening. Dialysis is the reason a patient like me is living. That's how I'm living. If I decide to stop, that's it."

While it is a major project, equipping the new hemodialysis unit is only part of the priority equipment needs identified for 2011. 

Every week, dental procedures are performed at PCH. The equipment needs for dental procedures encompasses a wide variety of instruments used in treatments such as fillings or tooth extractions. 

The Secondary Stroke Prevention Clinic, a pilot project of the Health P.E.I., is new at PCH this year. 

The Impax clinical image viewer used in this unit will allow clinicians to access imaging information securely. 

Help is needed to raise the over $1.1 million required for medical equipment this year. Monthly giving is available and gifts can be made securely online at  

For a more comprehensive list of equipment needs and to hear more about the Schurman family's story, visit, or visit the Foundation office in the lobby of PCH.

Organizations: Prince County Hospital, Vital Signs, PCH Foundation

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Prince

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