Cedar Avenue was home to the Lions Dialysis Training Centre, where hundreds of South Australians learned to perform haemodialysis at home.
Patients selected for home haemodialysis training required somewhere to stay whilst training. Dr James Lawrence approached the Lions Club of Mitcham to see if they could provide off-site accommodation for training purposes. They had donated the first home dialysis machine.
Dr James Lawrence
Dr James Roland Lawrence was the first Director of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Renal Unit in 1964. He was a part of the first team in Australia that successfully performed a renal transplant. The transplant recipient was Pasquale Tirimacco, who received the kidney from his father-in-law. The transplanted kidney functioned well for 12 years.
As the number of dialysis patients increased at TQEH, home-based dialysis treatment trials were conducted. During his tenure as the director, James facilitated the purchase of the first Home Dialysis Unit in Australia. The Lions Club of Mitchen contributed $1000 towards the purchase cost of $3000. In 1976, he left The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, becoming Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.
In October 1971, the Lions Club of Mitcham approached the Director General of Medical Services and the Minister of Health with an offer to provide a nearby home for the purpose of home training. They proposed to raise funds for the project and believed they could achieve their goal within three years.
In February 1972, the Board formally accepted the Lion’s offer. Several functions were organized and the Board of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital searched for nearby properties. In July 1974, the hospital recommended the purchase of 15 Cedar Ave, Woodville. The property, an 8-roomed house adjacent to the hospital, was given by the Lions Club of Mitcham to the Minister of Health on 19 November 1974. The purpose of the purchase was to establish the Lions Dialysis Training Centre, and $50,000 was raised, along with the provision of 8 portable kidney machines for use at the centre. After extensive conversion work by the TQEH Engineering and Building Services to make it suitable for dialysis and patient training, the centre was formally opened on 15 April 1975. The house was formally opened by Mr. Johnny Balbo, the President of Lions International. The centre was staffed by TQEH staff and was the first home dialysis training centre in the state.
Although officially named the Lions Dialysis Training Centre, it became known colloquially as Cedar Avenue.
In 1979, there were 100 people in South Australia who required renal dialysis for treatment. Out of these, 40 were given training to treat themselves. Before the establishment of the training house, all home dialysis training was conducted in the chronic dialysis unit located on the first floor of the Maternity Wing, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
During the training phase, patients were accommodated at the Training House. The house had two kitchens that allowed them to cook their own meals. No one slept in the house except for those who needed overnight dialysis to simulate the experience of dialysing alone without staff present. The training lasted about 8 weeks, during which the patient’s homes were prepared for their arrival with the dialysis machine. Renal Technicians and appropriate plumbers and electricians were involved in the plumbing and electrical work required for the installation of the machine.
Peritoneal Dialysis was developed during this time, and machines to perform it were used in the house. Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis was also developed and training for this was conducted in the Cedar Avenue House until the mid-1980s when it was shifted to Ward 3C.
The TQEH Renal trained nurses provided ongoing dialysis and medical care to patients at Cedar Avenue until 1996. By the 1990s, home dialysis lost popularity worldwide due to the burden it placed on patient’s partners. Regional centres were also being established where patients could receive dialysis and did not need to come to Adelaide. The hospital decided that the training centre could be managed more efficiently if it were located within the hospital. Cedar Ave was put up for sale to the public in August 1996.
Cedar Avenue served as the location of the Lions Dialysis Training Centre for twenty-one years. It enabled patients to acquire the necessary skills to perform haemodialysis independently, empowering them to take control of their health and manage their condition with confidence.
Written by Pam Venus, CALHN Health Museum Volunteer