The Hospital Authority is making it easier for kidney patients to have life-saving treatment. Using extra funds provided by the government, 30 extra places for blood cleansing haemodialysis treatment will be provided in hospitals in addition to the 640 already available. The authority has also started a pilot scheme with a charity to subsidise patients having haemodialysis at home. During the procedure, patients whose kidneys have failed have their blood cleaned of waste products such as urea and free water by passing it through an artificial kidney. Most kidney patients in Hong Kong use a cheaper process called peritoneal dialysis that removes contaminants through the abdomen and can be done at home, but it is not suitable for all people. Chief of medicine and geriatric service at Princess Margaret Hospital, Matthew Tong Kwok-lung, said no one who needed haemodialysis had been denied it, but some had had to wait until the last minute. 'Due to the limited resources, staff and equipment, we can't support many patients. 'This year 30 more patients who are not very suitable for peritoneal dialysis can turn to haemodialysis earlier,' Dr Tong said. More than 3,600 patients with kidney failure are using peritoneal dialysis in which fluid injected through a permanent catheter draws out contaminants through the abdomen wall, or peritoneum. Dr Tong said peritoneal dialysis costs about HK$90,000 per patient a year, 60 per cent less than that of haemodialysis, so it was used as first-line treatment. But this method can cause infection of the peritoneum, which forces patients to turn to the blood-washing procedure. Meanwhile, the authority has launched a pilot scheme with a charity, Hong Kong Kidney Foundation, to subsidise kidney patients renting equipment to have haemodialysis at home. A patient has to contribute 27 per cent, or about HK$3,000, of the monthly cost and receives a 10-week training course to learn how to use the machine. Shum To, 40, was the first patient to join the scheme in September. Before that, he had to travel to the Princess Margaret Hospital twice a week. 'Now I can have haemodialysis at home while sleeping, saving me a lot of time,' he said. 'And I can have haemodialysis more frequently, which is better for my health. I feel my life is much better.' Dr Tong said five more patients would be able to join the pilot scheme this year, but emphasised that it was not suitable for all patients. He said the machine and procedure were quite complex and could not be done by someone illiterate. Also, because of the time and cost involved in training the patient, this method was not suitable for people about to undergo a kidney transplant.