Dialysis in 39 countries: Globe-trotting kidney patient has treatment on Abu Dhabi holiday

Modern technology opens up travel opportunities for people requiring dialysis

Abu Dhabi’s first international dialysis patient to fly to Abu Dhabi to do dialysis while on vacation, Filipe Miguel Amado de Almeida. Shireena Al Nowais / The National
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A 35-year-old Portuguese dialysis patient is not letting his condition restrict his travel options, after receiving treatment in Abu Dhabi on holiday this week.

Filipe Amado de Almeida started needing dialysis three times a week in 2017, after his kidneys stopped working properly when he was 12 due to an autoimmune disease.

The father of three spends six hours at a time attached to a machine to remove waste products and excess fluid from his blood.

This initially felt like “the end of the world” for the avid traveller, but Mr Almeida was determined not to let his condition stop him from visiting all the countries on his bucket list.

We want holidaymakers to enjoy a stress-free stay in Abu Dhabi
Dr Mai Al Jaber, chief executive of Imperial College London Diabetes Centre

Having travelled to 42 holiday destinations, he visited the UAE capital this week to attend Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week for two days before having dialysis on Wednesday. He has had dialysis in 39 countries.

“When I started dialysis, I felt like this was the end of the world. My life had stopped and I was never going to travel again,” he told The National.

“I realised that dialysis would never stop, but it should not stop my life. I needed to take care of my kids, and I began travelling a lot.”

This came with perhaps obvious logistical challenges at first, but Mr Almeida soon realised that modern technology was his biggest asset.

'It's like booking hotels'

“With technology, it is easy,” he said. “It is like booking hotels, but instead of hotels, you book for dialysis. I would go on Bookdialysis and book my sessions.”

Tips for travelling while needing dialysis
  • Inform your doctor about your plans. 
  • Ask about your treatment so you know how it works. 
  • Pay attention to your health if you travel to a hot destination. 
  • Plan your trip well. 

Bookdialysis was established in 2017 and, over the last seven years, has emerged as a leading online booking engine for holiday dialysis patients worldwide.

It is a trusted partner of the Kidney Patient Associations, with a network of more than 800 certified dialysis clinics globally, and is available in nine languages.

Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), part of the M42 group, has become the first centre in Abu Dhabi to partner with Bookdialysis, and Mr Almeida was the first to book using the free platform.

“I just know that if I was travelling for a week, three days would be spent on dialysis,” Mr Almeida said.

“So a week's holiday would be four days for us, but dialysis gives me life because without it, I would die.

“Booking for dialysis is very easy, and now you can do it on your phone. You just choose the country or city and book.

“It is important that when choosing a country, I choose ones with a clinic or a hospital. That is always the first step, and then you book the flights and hotels.”

'Excited to attract more'

Mr Almeida's story looks likely to be the first of many, as the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre is keen to attract more patients to Abu Dhabi as a safe location for travel.

“We launched this service where international patients can travel safely and book their sessions online,” Dr Mai Al Jaber, chief executive of ICLDC, told The National.

“We call this holiday dialysis, and we are excited to attract more patients to be able to fly safely to Abu Dhabi and book their sessions at ICLDC.

“We understand how stressful it is for a dialysis patient to travel and wanted to help relieve them of some of the burden of travelling while being committed to dialysis sessions.

“We want holidaymakers to enjoy a stress-free stay in Abu Dhabi.”

Dr Al Jaber said advances in technology are helping make travel more convenient and comfortable in equal measure, as the diabetes centre strives to improve quality of life.

“Imperial College London Diabetes Centre's partnership with Bookdialysis epitomises our shared commitment to continually improving the quality of life for our patients,” she said.

“Approximately 10 per cent of the global population is affected by this disease, amounting to over 800 million people worldwide.

“By harnessing the transformative power of technology, we are redefining the dialysis travel experience, ensuring that patients who come to the UAE and Abu Dhabi receive unparalleled care and support, regardless of where they come from.

“This collaboration opens up many opportunities for individuals battling chronic kidney disease, promising enhanced quality of life and limitless options for exploration.”

Updated: May 17, 2024, 5:21 AM
Tips for travelling while needing dialysis
  • Inform your doctor about your plans. 
  • Ask about your treatment so you know how it works. 
  • Pay attention to your health if you travel to a hot destination. 
  • Plan your trip well.