Russell gave up his work as a welder to care for his partner Carol when her advanced kidney disease became symptomatic. He took on the shopping and cooking as well as providing the other aspects of care and support during Carol’s time on dialysis. When Carol was transplanted, Russell used his new skills to gain a place at Bolton College to get a formal cooking qualification. This led to a 2 week work experience at the famous Midland Hotel – the “jewel in the crown” of the Manchester Hotels. The Midland knew talent when they saw it and now Russell is one of their key chefs.
Working as a professional chef, Russell sees the central role of diet in healthy living and the fun eating out together can be. That’s difficult for people on dialysis. Russell and his colleagues at the Midland Hotel therefore hosted a dinner – not only safe for dialysis patients but also mouth watering and tasty for all - on the weekend of the 60th anniversary of the NHS.
The first Salford Royal Foundation Trust dialysis patients dinner was a great success. More than 80 patients, carers and staff attended, there were tables from the Bolton, Rochdale and Wigan as well as Salford haemodialysis units and people on both home dialysis and peritoneal dialysis. The food was delicious. For the meat eaters we had smoked haddock & salmon fishcake, followed by chicken with a red wine jus and the vegetarians received a butternut squash risotto followed by a baked asparagus and leek filled filo pastry parcel with herb and butter sauce. Both main courses were accompanied by oven roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables with lemon tart & raspberry coulis for dessert and coffee to finish.
Russell and Diane Green (Renal Dietitian in Salford) spoke about choosing, preparing and combining a whole range of “forbidden” foods to show how this and other appetising menus can be created.
Jane Macdonald, (lead kidney care nurse at Salford Royal and President Elect of the British Renal Society) was the master of ceremonies, introducing guests Jean (committee member, Hope Hospital Kidney Patient Association), David Dalton (CEO, Salford Royal) and celebrity chef Lawrence Keogh (Head cook, Roast Restaurant, London). Lawrence is star of BBC’s “Saturday Kitchen” and gave a terrific talk explaining what it was like and how he managed on dialysis. Like many people, dialysis hit him head-on and the lack of preparation made it really difficult. All the while, he was working, running a restaurant and even opening new ones whilst coping with the dietary restriction (and keeping his PD fluid warm in the kitchen!). Lawrence’s new book of recipes for people with kidney disease should be available shortly and Maxine (Lawrence’s wife), told me that this year was going to be a busman’s holiday – Lawrence cooking dialysis recipes to get them just right for his book!
David Dalton commented that the evening gave him a unique opportunity to meet with people on dialysis, their friends, families and carers. It was a rare chance to hear “real” stories about the issues facing people with kidney disease including parking, transport, dietary and other lifestyle restrictions and see first-hand the courage and fortitude of many such patients.
Given the focus on patient experience; and given that for many people on dialysis the experience is the outcome, it was a fitting way to start the next 60 years of the NHS.
Well done Russell and thank you!
Donal O'Donoghue, Russell Atkinson & Carol Brennan, Marie O'Donoghue, Lawrence Keogh