Peter Farmer is a proud Noongar man. He has been suffering from ongoing health concerns such as chronic diabetes, renal failure and heart problems for the last seven years.
The 51-year-old originally from Western Australia, is also a well-known Aboriginal artist. Peter embarked on a journey from Perth to Melbourne in late 2018, to begin dialysis, which was almost halted by quadruple bypass heart surgery in February 2019. Peter had to undergo an intense cardio-rehab program through the University Hospital in Geelong, in order to be relisted for renal-transplant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH).
Peter was contacted as a candidate just weeks before Victoria’s first COVID-19 lockdown, to undergo a kidney transplant at the RMH in February, 2020.
“For months before the move, my wife, son and I researched top kidney teams across the country and the RMH kept popping up so we thought we best get to Melbourne,” said Peter.
“The care I received there was like a breath of fresh air.”
For both Peter and his wife, Miranda and son, Peter Jnr, it was important to be treated and cared for at a hospital that fosters an inclusive and supportive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
After spending months in Melbourne leading up to his transplant surgery and afterwards, Peter’s family made the trip back home to Perth.
“Once we got home I realised just how much I appreciated the care and support that I received at the RMH,” said Peter.
“I knew that my family and I had to make the move to Melbourne permanent. I spend so much of my time attending appointments and looking after my health – I needed to be somewhere that I felt supported, comfortable and at ease,” he said.
Team manager of the RMH Aboriginal Health Unit, Steven Portelli, says he and his team are humbled when hearing about positive experiences in hospital from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients like Peter.
“One of the biggest challenges a lot of Aboriginal people in the community face is knowing they can come into an environment that's culturally safe & sensitive to them,” said Steven.
“People will have different views on what cultural safety is to them and how they engage, and it’s important for us to understand everyone’s unique needs, so we can tailor our services to provide effective person-centred care.”
It’s now been more than a few years since Peter and Miranda made the move across the country, and they say their lives have changed for the better.
“I am more aware of how to balance things now. Our lives have completely changed for the better. I used to be over 100 kilograms and I’m now 71 kg - I’m even enjoying my veggie sticks as a snack!
“With the support of my amazing wife, son, and my RMH Renal Care Team, my lifestyle has completely changed. Aside from the cooler weather, I am loving life in Melbourne,” said Peter.
*Photo credit Matilda Marozzi ABC