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Supporting kidney transplant patients

Thursday 07 January 2021

As a nephrologist at the PA Hospital (PAH), Dev Jegatheesan is driven by a desire to continue improving outcomes for kidney transplant patients.

With kidney transplantation impacting the endocrine, cardiac, immune systems, and more, it was the complex nature of such patients which caught Dev's interest and led him towards his current path in nephrology.

With a keen interest in fitness and diet as it relates to the field of nephrology, Dev is currently not only undertaking his Ph.D. in the area but collaborating with PAH Dietitian Dr Ingrid Hickman, and others, on a randomized control trial evaluating fitness and diet impacts on kidney and liver transplant patients.

Like all clinicians who work at the PAH, ensuring patients benefit from improved outcomes is his primary focus.

"My clinical Ph.D. is entitled patient-centred approaches to improving physical fitness in kidney disease. It hypothesises that we may have a better chance at improving fitness outcomes by involving patients along each step of the research journey," Dev said.

"A lot of the fitness outcomes in people with kidney disease have traditionally been researcher generated. But we don't know whether those outcomes are relevant and/or important for patients. There's been limited consumer engagement in the area of physical fitness so far."

PAH Nephrologist, Dev Jegatheesan

"By understanding more about patient motivations and desired outcomes, we hope to develop interventions that target patient-specific goals. Patient involvement is a key part of the research."

The U-DECIDE Study, which Dev is an associate investigator on, will expand on his earlier research in fitness and Dr Hickman's work in dietetics, including her PA Research Foundation supported research on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for liver transplant patients with PAH's Dr Graeme Macdonald.

The study will empower kidney and liver transplant patients to improve their diet and fitness goals through assisted lifestyle interventions, including technology such as individualised text messages, educational resources via phone applications, Fitbits and virtual consultations. Ultimately, the study has the potential to improve the feasibility and sustainability of lifestyle interventions for patients across Metro South Health.

As with many research proposals, patient-centred research like the U-DECIDE Study is not always attractive to larger funding sources like the pharmaceutical industry, which makes organisations like the PA Research Foundation crucial to the advancement of not only clinicians careers but medical research, which ultimately helps patients.

"When it comes to lifestyle modification studies, which we know from research is vitally important for patients yet doesn't garner strong support from pharmaceutical or other industry, the support we receive from the PA Research Foundation is pivotal and we are immensely grateful."

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