A simple but potentially life-saving device has been given to more than a thousand kidney dialysis patients in Wales, thanks to funding from patient support and research charity, Kidney Wales.

There are currently around 1,200 kidney patients on haemodialysis in Wales, with more than 900 doing so through techniques known as arteriovenous fistula (AVF) and arteriovenous grafts (AVG). However, those patients are at risk of life-threatening bleeds if their fistula or grafts fail.
The simple rubber ‘bottle cap keyring’ provided by Kidney Wales can be pressed over the bleed to stem the flow of blood, and buy the patient valuable time to dial 999 before they potentially bleed to death.

Emma Roberts, vascular access nurse specialist for Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board said: “These Fistual Cap keyrings were the brainchild of our renal colleagues at Manchester Royal Infirmary. We really loved the simple design and ease of use.
“The funding by Kidney Wales paid for thousands of the keyrings, which have been sent to all the kidney units across Wales, which means they can be distributed to patients free of charge. We now give the keyrings to all of our patients alongside the vital information about managing a life-threatening bleed.
“Hopefully a patients won’t ever need to use them, however if they do, it really could be lifesaving. It has already been used by several patients in England to do just that.”

The Welsh Clinical Renal Network (WCRN) and the Renal Vascular Access Nurse Specialists (VANS) across Wales are used to working with Kidney Wales to support patients. Nic Clarke, director of operations and fundraising for Kidney Wales, said: “A fistula cap keyring seems like a simple design, but what it offers is time. The time to call the emergency services, time to save a life and more time for patients with their families.
“We have been working with the Renal VANS and the WCRN to ensure that health boards across Wales have access to these keyrings. We look forward to continuing to work alongside them to improve vascular access services for kidney patients.”

For patients in the Swansea Bay and Hywel Dda University Health Boards, they have already seen the first-hand positive effects that the fistula cap keyrings can have, as a patient on the ward recently used their cap because of the risk of a life-threatening bleed.