Big Red Walk for kidney health at Invermay in September

READY TO WALK: Debbie Brown, Mandy Moore and Mary Townsend are gearing up for the Big Red Walk on September 10. Picture: Neil Richardson
READY TO WALK: Debbie Brown, Mandy Moore and Mary Townsend are gearing up for the Big Red Walk on September 10. Picture: Neil Richardson

Spending 12 hours on dialysis a week hasn’t dampened Mary Townsend or Debbie Brown’s spirits.

“We’re very fortunate,” Ms Townsend said.

The Riverside woman began dialysis treatment in December last year, after her kidneys stopped working in November.

“It’s been a fairly rocky road but the care I have received out at Kings Meadows, and at the Launceston General Hospital to start with, has been absolutely amazing,” she said.

Ms Townsend has polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition. At 73, she is not eligible for a kidney transplant, so she faces dialysis treatment three times a week for the rest of her life. 

“I’ve lived with it for a long time and it’s been a struggle, but I haven’t let it get on top of me. I’ve worked and thoroughly enjoyed my work as a teacher at St Patrick’s where I received a lot of care as well from everybody, which in turn helped me to keep going.”

Ms Townsend said keeping healthy was important to her. “I have all sorts of goals to keep healthy and goals to have holidays. I’m going to have a holiday with my husband - we’re going to Halls Gap in October, and I’m going to be using the Big Red Kidney Bus there.”

Ms Brown, of Youngtown, has the same type of kidney disease. She was diagnosed at five years old.

“I had lots of recurring infections when I was younger, and I had fatigue and just feeling really tired all the time,” she said. “That’s what’s brought me to this end stage where I’m on dialysis.

“It is the fatigue and tiredness that gets you, but you’ve got to tell yourself, ‘I can’t let this ruin my life’, and I’m so glad Mary’s going to do this trip because I too believe you shouldn’t put your life off and you should go on holiday.”

Ms Brown was on home dialysis for about a year, before switching to hemodialysis at the Kings Meadows clinic. She is on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and has a brother-in-law and friend who are signed up to the transplant exchange program.

Big Red Walk, September 10

Kidney Health Australia’s Big Red Walk at Heritage Forest, Invermay, is just a month away.

The walk aims to raise money and awareness of kidney disease – something one in three Australians are at risk of developing.

Kidney Health Australia Tasmania’s Mandy Moore, who suffered kidney failure and received a transplant herself, said the walk was open to everyone in the community who wanted to get involved.

“It will be a real family event,” Ms Moore said.

As well as the walk, there will be a jumping castle, face painting, a barbecue run by South Launceston Rotary Club, apples donated by Lees Orchard, and water donated by Mountain Water.

  • The Big Red Kidney Walk is at Heritage Forest, off Conway Street at Invermay on September 10, 9.30am for a 10.30 walk.
  • There is a 1km, 2.5km and 5km option.
  • Individuals are $20, groups of 10 are $100, and children under 12 are free.
  • Register at