Holiday Dialysis in Fiji and a Magical Medical App

Our BigD unit is expanding at a great rate.  There are many new faces that will take a few weeks to become part of the furniture.  One guy, Phil (not his real name), started about a month ago.  As usual, he looked crook: pale and washed out, weak and miserable, and definitely not happy to be there. We have all been through it.  I was quite angry when I started, and for a while no amount of advice or chat cut any ice with me.  So I tend to leave new people alone for a few weeks, to let them get used to their new friends, the needle brothers and the new way they are investing 15 hours a week in their health.

After a couple of weeks, most people start to feel a lot healthier and begin to realise that going on to the BigD was actually a good move.  They come to understand how unwell they were and some even admit that they should have started sooner.  Last week Phil said to me: “It’s not the big deal I thought it would be.  I can handle this.”

BigD, Fiji and Me (and You)

And just to underline it, Phil decided to have his first BigD holiday.  He chose Fiji, an old stomping ground.  He found out that there were only two BigD centres in Fiji, one well established (and full) in Suva, and a shiny new one called the Western Dialysis Centre in Nadir.

The A$400,000 centre was opened on 3 May 2012, and has an interesting history.  It was set up by a local family (the Smith family of Musket Cove) and Doctor Zen Low, the owner of the Zen’s Medical Centre.  And in a delightful philanthropic gesture, the ANZ Bank provided financial support to buy equipment.  The four Fresenius machines cost $39,000 each (I always wanted to know how much they cost).

The unit has four chairs, two in an open area and two in private rooms.  According to Phil, the service and the staff are “Excellent – trained in the Philippines – just as good as our unit. No worries about that.”  There is also a doctor on hand.

The other interesting thing about the unit is that they have establishing a trust fund to help subsidise the cost of dialysis treatment for patients unable to afford it.  Locals are charged at cost – $250 per session.  International visitors are charged about $360 per session, and the profit is used to subsidise local patients who cannot afford to have the required number of sessions.

So roll on international visitors.  How many opportunities do you get to have a break in a tropical paradise and benefit other BigD members in need?  The unit is located in the Zen’s Medical Centre, at 40 Lodhia Street, Nadi (don’t try to find it on Google Maps, there are only about three streets marked).  The phone number is + 679 670 3533.  There are also two mobile numbers: + 679 999 3067 and +679 999 6003. I hope to see you there!

A Magical New Medical App

Cardiio – 3 Stars – $5.49

This is indeed a magical app.  It does a fairly mundane thing: it transforms your iPhone into an accurate, touch-free heart rate monitor, but the magic is in how it works.

Cardiio’s technology is based on cutting-edge research and science conducted at the MIT Media Lab. The measurement principles are the same as clinical pulse oximeters.  Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face.  Using advanced software, your iPhone’s front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart rate!

Check out the video:

It shows the process in action (with a short explanatory intro of the mathematical technique).  Fast forward to 1 min 33 sec to see it in action on a face and to 3 min 20 sec to see it measure a wrist artery and track baby breathing.


  • Touch-free, real-time heart rate measurements
  • Beautiful and easy to use interface
  • Personal dashboard with history (daily, weekly and monthly)
  • Fitness level rating based on your heart rate
  • Estimate your potential life expectancy.

Worth a measly $5 just to impress your friends!

3 thoughts on “Holiday Dialysis in Fiji and a Magical Medical App

  1. Just been to Fiji for a holiday. Doing Dialysis there was ok good at putting the needles in but the room and Center was nothing like they said at all. I had to ask them to clean the room and toilet and chair before I started. The toilet was still vary dirty and the chair was that dirty I had to clean it my self. And for $650 not good. The Center did not look like the money was spend in the right way.


    • Hi Emma, so did you go to the Western Dialysis Centre in Nadi? Is this also known as the Zen Medical Centre? Disappointing to hear that it is not clean. ‘Tis Linda


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