Patrick Cox, from Castlecomer, wearing his Dialize hoody while having his own treatment
A Kilkennyman who has undergone dialysis for two significant periods of his life is hoping to make the treatment more comfortable for people with a line of specially designed clothing.
Patrick Cox, from Castlecomer, underwent lifesaving dialysis as a child and now, again, as an adult. The process involves a lot of medical equipment, including wires and tubes that are attached to the body for the treatment. Patients must remove their own clothing to allow medical access, but Patrick has now come up with clothes with openings in the arms and chest, so patients can stay fully dressed during treatment.
Patrick and his fiancée Rachel recently set up Dialize Clothing, based on Patrick’s experience of dialysis. He explains: “I found every day a struggle to find suitable clothes to wear.” He was also annoyed that elderly people, especially, would almost have to expose themselves by pulling open clothing to allow a treatment line to be inserted in an arm or chest. So he designed IV accessible clothing that can be used by patients on dialysis, undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics or anyone with a pic line or IV treatment.
The range currently has a hoodie and a half-zip top. Patrick recently designed a baby romper suit that allows a Hickman line access. The adult clothes are warm and don’t look like ‘medical clothing’ so can be worn anywhere.
Patrick is hoping to add jumpers or cardigans, that will appeal to older patients, to the line in the future.
As a dialysis patient himself, Patrick knows the difficulty of finding the right clothes to wear to treatment. He was born with a rare condition called gastroschisis, where his organs were on the outside.
This was corrected with an operation but complications meant he needed a kidney removed, then at 16 he started his first time on dialysis. He received a kidney transplant after three years. That kidney failed after a few years and Patrick has been on dialysis again for the last three years.
“I’m a bit older and wiser this time,” he said. “I see people struggling and nothing has changed. People are taking out their arms and freezing. That’s where Dialize came from.”
The couple started out with a design, which they make themselves, before Patrick would wear it as a trial. They redesigned the tops a few times to perfect it.
Keeping the business local, Castlecomer company IntoSport are manufacturing the Dialize clothing. Cousin Jonny Dowling is also giving Patrick some advice on how to run a business.
“Everything we try to do is local,” said Patrick. “We want to be an Irish company with Irish products.”
Patrick, who also works as a barber in Kilkenny, is currently on dialysis three days a week. He is honest and open about his experience, and says he probably has more bad days than good, but he still finds the time to think about making the uncomfortable experience a bit easier for patients. He says it’s good to have something to keep his mind occupied.
“You get a lot of anxiety with dialysis,” he said. “The physical side you can deal with, but the mental side is harder.
“Nobody talks about the four hours on the machine. You can’t plan breaks away, it’s constantly on your mind. A lot of patients do get down, so it’s good to have something to focus on.
“We’re not trying to make a lot of money, just enough to keep the company going and develop new products.”
In the future, Patrick said, he would love to see organisations like the Irish Kidney Association or the Irish Cancer Society buying Dialize clothing and giving them to patients at the start of their treatment.
You can find out more about Dialize Clothing, and Patrick’s own journey, on the company’s Facebook page or on dializeclothing.com