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DIALYSIS AND TRAVEL
Other pages: Dialysis Konnections and our Australian Dialysis Unit Guide

ON DIALYSIS, THINKING OF TRAVEL IN AUSTRALIA? 

If well enough, with careful planning, a holiday can boost your confidence and well being. However, when you live with chronic disease there are major road blocks to negotiate before you can travel sensibly.

  • Ensure you have funds to cover costs for health emergencies, treatment and medicine. Dialysis treatment can be expensive!
  • Do not organise dialysis without talking with your health team! Ask them how travel may affect your health. 

Read why it is important to take a break on dialysis - and how health professionals help!
Travel & dialysis: How can nurses help? Black, K (2009) Educational Supplement Ren Soc Aust J 5(3) 152-154

Home dialysis on the road
Quick reference guide to help planning your dialysis ‘on the road’ - download Home dialysis on the road>

Booking travel dialysis arrangements in Australia
With increasing demand for dialysis lack of spare chairs is a problem in some areas - sessions should always be booked well in advance. When arrangements are made, confirm dialysis session times in advance - you must be flexible with plans.

Private dialysis in Australia may offer temporary dialysis but charge a fee for treatment
Capacity is a problem even in private units. If available, approx cost $450 to $650 per treatment (South Australia), with eastern states $800 to $900 per treatment depending on location. Ensure you book in advance, get a firm quote and confirmation of treatment dates. Minimum 1 month notice essential.

Medically required medications
Work out your medical costs before making travel plans including medication. Many countries including Australia only allow medically required medication cover for a maximum of 3 months (maximum dosage). Ensure your doctor writes an up to date treatment letter setting out health and medication. Your Dialysis Unit should also provide an introduction letter noting your individual treatment - Travel overseas with PBS medications.

Medicare 132 011 - or locate Medicare office
TTY 1800 552152 for hearing/speech impaired - 131 450 interpreting service
Australia's Reciprocal Health Agreements Medicare Australians traveling overseas and Visitors to Australia 
Health Insurance Consultants
- independent overview of Australian Reciprocal Health Agreements

For Aussies with kidney disease wanting to travel
Australian Dialysis Unit Guide (DUG)  Use our DUG to locate a Dialysis Unit in Australia
BigDandMe - Holiday Dialysis Blog  Aussie stories of Holiday Dialysis adventures
Dialysis Escape Line: Australia PD & haemo - dialysis nurses on all cruises - call 08 8227 0181 or Wayne Cooper 0448 588 880 for enquiries. Dalysis Abroad International escorted tours on dialysis 08 8362 6657
NephroCare Australia - Fresenius Travel and dialysis information Fresenius - Dialysis Clinic Finder
Private Health Australian Government resource 1300 737 299 9-5 M-F
Private Health Insurance Ombudsman 1800 640 695
Renal Info
support & resources - all countries inc Australia (Baxter)
The Travel Doctor Australian Traveler's Medical & Vaccination Centre Travel Kits Medical

AUSTRALIAN DIALYSIS UNITS - WHO OFFER TRAVEL ON DIALYSIS PLACES


State Booking ahead essential - no guarantee space available - click links in red below
New South
Wales

EnableNSW - The Away From Home Haemodialysis Program>
Eligible haemodialysis patients can access dialysis services at no cost when traveling away from home, for education, work, holidays. Subject to availability & funding - receive up to 3 sessions a year at a dialysis unit listed onsite (none in Tasmania) away from your usual place of residence. Register online only if you a NSW resident!

Newcastle: Wansey Dialysis Centre - John Hunter Hospital NSW>
Call Team Leader, High Dependency 02 4943 9635 or send written request to: Wansey Dialysis Centre, 1A Dudley Road Charlestown NSW 2290

Northern
Territory
Alice Springs Renal Unit (public) Staff try to keep shift for travelers - advance notice essential. Visit MacDonnell Ranges or Standley Chasm. Call Dialysis Unit 08 8951 6750.

Alice Springs - Dialysis Unit (private) Fresenius.

Queensland Townsville Renal Unit Call 07 4433 2650 - private/public units do have capacity problems, but worth trying.

Caloundra Private Renal Unit - read holiday brochure first, then call 07 5492 0215 for enquiries.

Victoria

Kyabram & District Health Services
Provide holiday dialysis: Tues * Thurs * Sat (morning) call Natalie Sheehan 03 585
7 0217.

Lorne Satellite Dialysis Uni - Satellite unit of Geelong Hospital (Barwon Health)
M-W-F am sessions. Xmas week to February, dialysis unit open 2 morning sessions (Mon to Sat) but no renal physician is on site. Enquiries reception@swarh.vic.gov.au or call 03 5289 4300 - refer to travel brochure>

Dialysis & Transplant Association of Victoria D.A.T.A. datavic.org/index.html
Support group - members may access low cost holiday homes, to enable family holidays with dialysis.

Tasmania

Launceston Community Health Centre Renal Unit
Call 03 6336 5132 - dialysis sessions for those from North/ North West Tasmania - advance notice essential.



KIDNEY HEALTH AUSTRALIA - DIALYSIS AND TRAVEL PROGRAMS


BIG RED KIDNEY BUS

To find out more about this program - go to Big Red Kidney Bus>

This mobile dialysis bus will provide holiday dialysis initially at Victorian holiday spots for up to 6 weeks at a time, parked at local caravan parks. Dialysis patients will need private accommodation, but can dialyse on the Big Red Kidney Bus and enjoy a real holiday with family and friends. We need your help to develop this project nationally.


Click button to go to donation page - note donation is for
'
Big Red Kidney Bus Program'  or the 'Travel Freedom on Dialysis Campervan Program'

Or simply use our freecall 1800 454 363 and our staff will make your donation via credit card easy.



TRAVEL FREEDOM ON DIALYSIS - CAMPERVAN PROGRAM


The Wade family made a generous startup donation of $50,000 to the dialysis campervan program. Every dollar raised will help put a fleet of these campervans on the road. This exciting initiative can provide respite or holiday dialysis options for Australians living with kidney disease. Each Kidney Campervan will be fitted with dialysis machines (see prototype image) and will be initially available in Queensland. Future plans willl expand the program nationally. Media>


To raise further funds, Rod Wade - Vintage Adventurer accompanied by navigator John Bell, will be driving Rod's 1930 Model ‘A’ Ford through remote locations - the intrepid team recently travelled across America, from East to West on Route 66. More at Vintage Adventurer's Everyday Hero fundraising page>




SUBSCRIBE for your e-copy of Kidney Community News
We would all love to hear about your path with kidney disease, particularly any travel adventures. Email Cassandra Bradshaw, the Editor of Kidney Community News at cassandra.bradshaw@kidney.org.au with suggestions for articles. 

Email: subscribe@kidney.org.au and include your full contact details, or simply call 1800 454 363 - our friendly staff with take down your details.



INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ON DIALYSIS AND POST TRANSPLANT


In Australia and overseas be aware delays can be expected if a bed in a public hospital isn’t available. Even if eligible for free treatment you may prefer to have control over treatment with private travel health cove.

If you travel overseas you can get help with the cost of essential medical treatment in some countries under the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreements: Australians overseas - entitlements for treatment under RHCA> New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway

Countries under Australian RHCAs which cover medically necessary treatment INCLUDING dialysis: Netherlands - New Zealand - United Kingdom may provide access to dialysis for Australians as RHCA eligible visitors, but there are limits.

These RHCA Agreements mean:

  • Australian residents can get help with the cost of essential medical treatment when visiting these countries
  • residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments while visiting Australia.

Each agreement is different and varies in benefits for medically necessary treatment, duration and eligibility. This is a complex area of travel health cover, especially if you have multiple chronic health conditions.Reciprocal Health Care Agreements are not designed to replace private travel health insurance for overseas travel.

Not all treatment is covered under an RHCA
Exceptions where no cover will be available are pre-arranged or elective treatment not immediately necessary, ambulance cover and paramedical services, dental care, medical evacuation to a home country, funerals, treatment in private hospital, or as a private patient in a public hospital. Private travel cover or ample funds available are essential in these circumstances.

To receive medically necessary treatment for any ill-health or injury whilst visiting an RHCA country, provide local health authorities with:

  • Australian passport or other passport which shows you are a permanent Australian resident
  • valid Medicare card - check expiry date to ensure you cover until you return to Australia
  • if known treatment is expected, advise medical staff you wish to be treated under an RHCA with Australia, to establish dialysis capacity. Be aware co-payments apply - and there are limits.
For more information on Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, call Traveling with PBS medicine inquiry line on 1800 500 147 or call Department of Human Services 132 290.

Visitors to Australia - entitlements for treatment under RHCA>
As a resident of an overseas RHCA country you are entitled to medically necessary treatment for ill-health or injury whilst in Australia, but does not include treatment considered ongoing, elective or treatment in a private hospital, but you are entitled to:

  • free treatment as a public in-patient or outpatient in a public hospital
  • subsidised medicine under Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits to cover some out-of-hospital medical treatment provided by doctors through surgeries and community health centres - be aware that a co-payment usually applies


VISITORS TO AUSTRALIA - ON DIALYSIS OR POST TRANSPLANT

RHCA eligible visitors to Australia are entitled to use dialysis services in Australia as a public patient
The number of dialysis treatments available depends on availability of resources of a treating hospital. Australia has agreed to provide RHCA visitors with free dialysis for lesser of either a maximum period of 4 weeks (covering all service sites) or maximum 12 sessions, within12 month period from the date of first treatment.

Dialysis in Medicare funded dialysis units (public) for eligible patients is based on clinical need!
The ability of the Australian health system to fund eligible overseas patients must not interfere with physical, clinical and/or financial capacity of any Area Health Service to meet clinical priorities for Australian residents. In reality you may have difficulty in finding spare capacity in public Australian Dialysis Units. Dialysis is limited to one RHCA patient at each site, subject to staffing and resources - each state may impose their own limits on free treatments offered.

If traveling on Student Visa - in any RHCA country you must have current Overseas Student Health Cover. Confirm with the insurer should you need dialysis, or treatment if transplanted, you will be covered. Students from Norway, Finland, Malta and Republic of Ireland are not covered by RHCA agreements with those countries.

Most temporary visitors to Australia are not covered under an RHCA
Overseas visitors on temporary visas are not eligible for Australian Medicare benefits for emergency treatment. Medicare benefits are not an option for general medical care. It is strongly recommended travelers with a chronic disease try to acquire some level of travel and private health insurance. If no cover is possible ensure funds are available to cover medications and treatment.

Dialysis is NOT covered under these RHCA agreements - it covers emergency treatment only

Visitors from New Zealand and Republic of Ireland should present their passport to Australian hospital clerical staff to be eligible for cover under Medicare. Access to public health care in Australia for visitors under an RHCA is restricted to a person ordinarily resident in the Republic of Ireland and temporarily in Australia. Such visitors will not be issued with Medicare cards.

Visitors from Finland - Norway - Sweden must take your passport and travel visa to a Medicare office to be registered and be given a Medicare number. This card and number must be presented to hospital clerical staff to prove Medicare eligibility. Registration may be done during or after your hospital stay. If you do not register you may be liable for the costs of treatment.

Visitors from Belgium - Slovenia - Netherlands - present your current European Health Card and passport. Residents of Malta and Italy - are only covered for six months from date of arrival.

Considering skilled work in Australia? You and your family must be healthy - strict health criteria!
Overseas Skilled Workers: health requirements: Australian Immigration Refer to Fact Sheet 22
Translated Resources - Australian Department of Immigration



TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE WHEN YOU HAVE KIDNEY DISEASE

When you have any chronic disease be realistic about likelihood of buying travel insurance for a preexisting condition. Consider locations in Australia as a better option to travel overseas, remote or long distance travel. Don’t book travel until you are covered by travel health insurance and have a sufficient budget for any emergency.

Will you qualify for travel health insurance?

If you had private health insurance cover when you developed a chronic condition you may be able to obtain travel cover from your health insurance company. If you had a complex path to kidney failure, are experiencing dialysis issues, or multiple health conditions, you may not find a travel insurer.

Consider basic travel insurance to cover emergencies
Pay for travel with a credit card which offers some level of travel insurance, or consider basic travel insurance via a union, bank or even Superannuation. Ask questions about travel insurance, especially if you have multiple preexisting health conditions. Most travel cover will exclude existing chronic conditions. Some level of travel insurance is strongly advised. We recommend you use an insurance broker to find suitable travel insurance as they have wider access to conditions which will fit your needs.

As a guide: travel insurance may be granted if you have kidney disease, have had a transplant at least six months old; there must never have been a rejection or infection and your overall health must be stable. Travel insurance will not usually cover anyone on a transplant waiting list or with a complex health history.

Travel insurance agencies who are known to offer cover to people post transplant
Applicants are assessed on individual health - if health does not meet the company's criteria, you may be refused

Travel insurance agencies who have offered cover to people post transplant include:
*Australia Post Travel Insurance (extra premium charged) *Allianz Australia -Travel Insurance  *Cover-More Travel Scene  *Chartis Travel  *Columbus Direct  *Travel Scene Insurance *Worldcare Travel Insurance Australia. Compare travel cover and conditions using www.comparethemarket.com.au

Useful reading: Getting help when travelling overseas * Importance of travel Insurance

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
Australians traveling overseas 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre
- Consular advice for emergencies: 1300 555 135 within Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia

Important: register with Smart Traveller for up to date travel advice and to receive consular assistance quickly - especially if you have a chronic disease or health problem.



TIPS FOR OVERSEAS TRAVEL WITH KIDNEY DISEASE

Obtaining haemodialysis in other countries is possible - standards of care may differ to Australian standards. Some global holiday dialysis groups specialise in this service and offer quality service guaranteed - but charge for the service. Ask what is covered in the fees.

Travel on Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) is simpler - with careful planning dialysis supplies can be delivered to a destination, if arranged in advance. Ask your health team if they can arrange contacts for back-up medical care, essential in case of ill health. Peritoneal Dialysis Travel 'Tool Box' Nephrology Nursing Journal. Bobbie Knotek, Laurie Biel USA

Travel when waiting for a Kidney Transplant - consult your doctor and Transplant Coordinator to decide if you will be able to return in time if a kidney becomes available. You are unlikely to receive travel insurance whilst on the transplant waiting list, or for some time post transplant. Your health must be confirmed as stable.

Travel anywhere when you have a chronic disease
When making hotel reservations - remember to request ground floor room or handicapped-accessible room, if stairs or walking distances are a problem.

When making travel or flight bookings - contact a Disability or Special Assistance Co-ordinator
If booking via a travel agent advise special needs - specific diet, accessible rooms and assistance to change planes. If you need assistance boarding a plane or train, inform staff when you check in. An agent can also advise the best method for safe transport of dialysis supplies to foreign countries.

Watch what you eat and drink
Talk to your dietitian about foods to avoid overseas. Don't risk drinking local water, use bottled water only, including water for brushing teeth. Avoid salads and ice cubes unless prepared yourself using bottled water. Avoid any foods from street vendors, especially ice cream.



TRAVEL HEALTH AND KIDNEY DISEASE Medical and treatment advice
  • Ensure your dialysis unit staff confirm dialysis session arrangements a few weeks before travel, as capacity can change, especially in a public unit. 
  • Transfer forms provide personal treatment references - ask your unit to send in advance to your destination unit. Carry copies with you at all times. In an emergency your relevant dialysis details can be forwarded by your unit staff to a unit which accepts your request.
  • When on holiday your health care team must be able to contact you, especially if on the transplant waiting list. Give your health team a detailed travel itinerary with contact details. Advise dialysis unit staff of any changes you make to your travel itinerary or plans.
  • Be aware, blood tests are compulsory for most units anywhere in the world - allow time to have the tests done and receive results. 
  • Check if vaccines are needed in countries where you travel - some vaccines are not recommended for dialysis patients. Transplant patients need to be especially careful of vaccines.
  • Keep an up to date treatment letter from your doctor with you at all times (copy in checked luggage) summarising your health, recent lab results and medication prescribed and why. You may need to provide this letter to Customs - also essential if you need to consult a doctor away from home. Keep scanned e- copies in an email (Yahoo, Hotmail) for access in emergencies. Your doctor can provide a copy in an emergency, but this is not ideal if you need urgent treatment or medication.
  • Be careful to check drugs considered illegal in countries you may travel to, especially pain killers or opiates if used. Erythropoietin is banned for sports persons - so ensure if you need this drug, it is noted in your treatment letter - otherwise you may be fined, face lengthy delays in Customs, or worse!
    Prohibited list; Therapeutic use exemptions World Anti-Doping Agency
  • Travel with at least a 3 day reserve of supplies - weather and flight delays, unexpected scheduling or shipment delays. Bags can also go astray - they may arrive on the next flight, however, to be safe always pack medications in a carry-on bag, never in checked luggage.
  • Planes don't have fridges for personal use - if you have a drug which must be kept cool ask your pharmacist how to pack it for travel. Check if your hotel has a fridge as some do not - they may suggest options. Consider packing medications in a thermo-bag with re-usable freezer packs. A wide-necked thermos chilled in advance also works. Make sure you allow time for transfers and delays when calculating the length of a trip when medication may be unrefrigerated.
  • Ensure you arrange a clean space in advance to do exchanges and store supplies. Carry 2 universal connectors, one in personal bag and one in checked luggage, in case one is lost in transit.
  • If you bring syringes you must bring the drug you inject, like insulin etc (some countries including Australia require a special license for certain drugs). There is no limit to how many empty syringes you can take as long as you also have the drug with you, with a professionally printed label that clearly identifies it. On your return trip make sure you declare any drugs you were given or prescribed. A treatment letter may be requested by Customs when returning home. 
  • If you travel by plane or train, make arrangements for special meals (e.g. low-salt, low-fat, diabetic) . If diabetic carry glucose tablets and snacks such as low-potassium juice to treat low blood sugar. Travel with lunch or nutrition supplement in case of delays. Managing diabetes can be simpler by having insulin, syringes and blood glucose monitoring unit in your hand luggage. 
  • Pack an emergency supply of bandages, pain killers, insect-bite ointment and anti-diarrhoea pills. Ask your health team for names of over-the-counter drugs you may use. Avoid over-exposure to the sun - take a high-factor sunscreen and use it - sun protection is very important for transplant patient.


INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL LOCATIONS - OFFERING DIALYSIS

Be aware that the quality, standards & charges may vary greatly in cities overseas
Asia Pacific Nephrocare - Global Dialysis Clinic Finder
Dalysis Abroad Australian escorted tours with quality dialysis - Japan, Bali & Italy.
Dialysis at Sea - USA Cruise to faraway places - shipboard medical and dialysis needs are handled by trained medical professionals - USA, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda.
Diaverum Holiday Dialysis - many locations
Eurodial Global dialysis group arranges guaranteed sessions with reputable private dialysis centres.
eNeph Clinicfinder for list of global Dialysis Units.
Fresenius Medical Care: Traveling and Dialysis Internatiional Locate a holiday dialysis unit globally.

Fresenius Holiday Dialysis - global Private dialysis unit finder.
Global Dialysis Extensive resource for dialysis patients who want to travel overseas.
Holiday Dialysis Book online for global private dialysis sessions.
International Federation of Kidney Foundations - Member Inventory Local groups give valuable information on availability of dialysis, quality of care and relevant charges.
The List: Dialysis & Transplantation Global guide to travel and dialysis - extensive resource.

INTERNATIONAL DIALYSIS PROVIDERS FOR TRAVEL ON DIALYSIS

Bali Indonesia - Nusa Dua
BIMC Hospital Dialysis Unit  Upgrades to these facilities ensure high Australian standards - stay at 4 star Hotel nearby. Contact unit before travel - see e-brochure US$249 per session.
9-5, 6 days no Sunday & PD supported - Australian staff speak: English, German, French, Japanese & Indonesian

Jo Skala - Haemodialysis Coordinator - Call +62 361 300 0911
jo@bimcbali.com * dialysiscentre@bimcbali.com or nusadua@bimcbali.com

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece-Crete, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey Holiday Dialysis: by Dr Berger for extensive travel service for dialysis patients.

Canada
Traveling Dialysis RV Association Rent RV with Formula Belco 2000 dialysis machine and WRO95 water purification system - patient must be trained with this type of unit.

Canary Islands
Club Haemodialysis Fresenius Private Travel info@dialysecanarias.com

Cyprus Dialysis via Cyprus Health Service Promotion Board - Cyprus Holiday Dialysis Unit
Greece - Rhodes Helionephro Dialysis (approx 250 euros a treatment) Helionephro Sun Dialysis Unit
Greece and other countries Treatment Abroad: Dialysis holidays

Italy
Fresenius in Cemona Holiday Dialysis International - dialysis cruises online booking/query form

Mauritius
Apollo Bramwell Hospital holiday dialysis - get quote and confirm booking before travel.

New Zealand
Kidney Health New Zealand access to holiday Dialysis Units
- Wellington Region Kidney Society's Taupo Holiday Home (minimum charges apply)
- Kidney Society of Auckland - Holidays and Travel

Pacific region
Fiji Islands: Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva (east coast - 200 km from west coast holiday spots) Session approx $500 Fiji. Call +679 310 0020 or fijidialysiscentre@gmail.com
Western Samoa: Motootua Hospital, in Apia +679 310 0020 and staff may offer local holiday dialysis information.

United Arab Emirates - in Dubai
Zulekha Hospital - Holiday Dialysis Most countries (inc Australia) are offered free Travel Visas

United Kingdom
Haemodialysis in Edinburgh Scotland
Dialysis Freedom - dialysis holiday specialists
Dialysis Holidays UK
Private Dialysis UK Find a holiday/ private dialysis clinic - get quote for anticipated treatment
Renal Assocation of UK - Lists over 70 main Dialysis Units Sort by map or postcode

United States of America
Dialysis Units in the USA
Dialysisfinder.com Travel links Book your dialysis sessions early
NKF (USA) Holiday Pages
Traveling on dialysis advice DaVita USA - hints for travel on dialysis and more
WhereDialysis.com Find Dialysis Facilities in the USA

Updated 29 July 2014 


Print  
Travel on dialysis fact sheets
 TitleDescription
Lorne Dialysis Unit - Travel on dialysis brochureEnquiries: reception@swarh.vic.gov.au or call 03 5289 4300
Caloundra Qld Private Renal Unit holiday dialysis brochureRead holiday brochure first, then call 07 5492 0215
 
 
 
  The material contained on this site does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for information purposes only. Published by Kidney Health Australia. Privacy Policy. For information about website content please contact the National Communications Manager.

© 2008 Kidney Health Australia

Last updated: Aug 2014.