Charity choices

The Aberdeen operation of international oil services company Aker Solutions has named The ARCHIE Foundation and the Kidney Dialysis Unit Stonehaven as their official charities for 2012.

The company will support both charities throughout the year to help raise money and spread public awareness.

The company took the decision to get behind the Kidney Dialysis Unit when a member of staff was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and had to be put on the transplant register to receive a donor kidney.

Julie Robertson (45), IT systems support coordinator at Aker Solutions in Portlethen, has been attending the Renal Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary since October 2011 after being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, which was caused by a common virus.

Mrs Robertson, from Stonehaven, said: “The kidneys are the body’s filter system, preserving the fluid and chemicals which you need and getting rid of what is not required. Kidney failure, if left untreated, is fatal but modern medicine has provided us with a life saving therapy – dialysis.

“Without dialysis many patients would die. At present I have 15% function left of my kidneys. Once I reach below 10% I will start dialysis treatment. If we had a local unit set up in Stonehaven it would help so many people. Not only is it important to me, as a future user but it’s vital for existing kidney patients south of Aberdeen.

“At present if you need dialysis it means visiting ARI three times per week and each session can take from four to eight hours depending on your needs. This in itself means a lot of disruption to family and working life.

“The unit in Stonehaven would operate 24 hours a day, this is essential as there are a restricted number of dialysis units and a large number of patients. This also allows people with children or jobs to come in at night time so it is not so disruptive to their family or their working life.

“The unit would also provide local services with trained staff to carry out the subsidiary services like blood tests and iron injections which many patients including myself have regularly by reducing the travel time.”

Mrs Robertson has taken part in a number of fundraising activities to help raise money for the cause including getting the local Stonehaven and Area Riding Club to adopt the cause as their main charity for the year. She has also helped to organise sponsored dinners in aid of the Kidney Dialysis Unit and will be taking part in a sponsored walk later this year to help raise money for the charity.

Prior to being diagnosed with kidney disease, Mrs Robertson was very active and a keen horse rider and skier.

“I’ve always had a very jam-packed social calendar however I have had to slow down a lot due to the illness. We have also had to put family holidays and trips on hold since I was diagnosed with the disease. The condition has had a huge effect on my life and has stopped me from doing a lot of the things I enjoy.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from friends and colleagues and I cannot thank Aker Solutions enough for getting behind the Kidney Dialysis Unit and pledging to support the cause throughout the year.”

Garry Michie, managing director at Aker Solutions’ well service business, said: “We are committed to supporting local charities as part of our corporate social responsibility programme. With so many worthy causes in need of support, it was a tough decision to nominate just one, so we asked everyone to take part in an online survey in which they were asked to vote for a local charity of their choice. The Kidney Dialysis Unit and The ARCHIE Foundation received an overwhelming number of votes and were the clear favourites among staff.

The company will be organising a number of fundraising events throughout the year in an effort to make a huge difference to both causes. Aker Solutions is one of Scotland’s largest employers with a workforce of more than 2,500.