By Terry Sopp.
Fistulas are a wonderful creation. I remember the first of many made by Dr Oliver in 1982. They are clean, efficient and simple to use. They are called your life-line for a reason.
I was diagnosed with the hereditary disease of Alport syndrome in 1982. After a failed transplant, I began haemodialysis. This continued for the next 24 years under the care of Dr Oliver, who had made my very first fistula. I finally received a kidney from my brother in 2006.
My sister Yvonne started dialysing at the Reading dialysis unit just over ten years ago. She had a fistula made and following a tricky start, it settled and she continued to get on with her life. Yvonne’s needling method changed to buttonhole two years ago, and this was to continue until the end of June 2018.
Following a successful dialysis whilst resting at home, Yvonne’s fistula began to bleed profusely. With
assistance, she managed to stem the flow until an ambulance arrived. They decided that she did not need to go to the hospital and a bandage was applied.
Two days later Yvonne woke with another major bleed. An ambulance was called, the paramedics managed to slow the blood flow and Yvonne was taken to the hospital. Under observation in the renal unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Yvonne was transferred to the Churchill hospital. After two thorough assessments and no bleeds, she was discharged with strict instructions, to be needled in a different area of the fistula.
The next day Yvonne resumed dialysis, needling in a different place. In the early hours, she woke up to what was described as a catastrophic bleed. Yvonne managed to call 999 and explain the situation, she gave her address and passed out. The paramedics broke in, exhaustive attempts were made to save her, but it was too late. Details of Yvonne’s death transpired following phone transcripts and paramedic witness statements heard at an inquest.
Yvonne had just celebrated her 61st birthday. She was a kind, generous and gentle soul who touched the lives of many. Her passion was gardening and she was very proud to be the winner in the Woodcote village festival in 2017.
Although this incident is very rare, we cannot let Yvonne’s death pass without warning others. Kidney patients need to know what to do if a life-threatening bleed is to occur. Yvonne’s fistula bled for no reason; we should be prepared if one happens to us. This message was reinforced at the inquest when we discovered that seven patients had died due to sudden bleeds over a three-year period nationally.
What can you do?
At the inquest, Mr Gilbert (Transplant surgeon and Vascular access lead), from the Churchill hospital,
demonstrated that with the aid of a simple plastic milk bottle top, held securely over the wound, a clot will form and due to the limited space within the bottle top, the bleed will clot and stop. We’ve been informed that all dialysis patients will be issued with these tops and are pleased to find out that the Reading unit has decided to name this life-saving method after Yvonne and will call it the ‘Sopp stop’. Hopefully, this will be a rare occurrence but keep one with you at all times. This simple Sopp stop
could be the difference between life and death.
Kidney patients need to know what to do if a life-threatening bleed is to occur. Yvonne’s fistula bled for no reason; we should be prepared if one happens to us. This message was reinforced at the inquest when we discovered that seven patients had died due to sudden bleeds over a three-year period nationally. “