About Us

The Barwon Health Renal Unit is located at Geelong Hospital in Victoria, Australia.

It is a medium sized service within the dialysis landscape of Australia.


We have always held the view that there had to be a better way of providing dialysis for our patients than simply the ‘one-size-fits-all’ conventional dialysis approach.


We believe that the concept of “adequate dialysis” based on mathematical formulae, as has been popularized over the last 20 years, is a flawed one.


We believe that “adequate” is not synonymous with “optimal”.


In 1998, when we heard of the development of nocturnal haemodialysis by Andreas Pierratos and the late Robert Uldall from Toronto, Canada, we knew at once that there was now something better that we could offer our patients.


We then embarked, with state government support, on a program to introduce nocturnal haemodialysis into our service.


We are now proud to offer our ~160 dialysis patients “flexible dialysis”.

Flexible dialysis is a term we have promoted throughout Australia to embrace a “mix and match” process where all and every option is offered to all and every patient, whenever and wherever it is possible to do so.


We offer:

1. Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis


2. Automated nocturnal peritoneal dialysis (now 70% of our PD patients)


3. Standard “conventional” 4 to 5 hour haemodialysis, 3 times weekly (in our hospital in-centre, in our satellite centres and in the home).


4. Daily (6 days/week) short hour (2-2.5 hrs) dialysis (in our hospital in-centre or in our satellite centres)


5. Nocturnal haemodialysis in the home, ranging from alternate night treatment (‘3.5’ nights/week) through to full 6-7 nights/week treatment depending on patient preference.

By offering these options in dialysis, we believe we now offer a truly “flexible dialysis” program.


We believe that the time on and the frequency of dialysis are the keys. In our view, bigger dialysers and faster flow rates are not the answer.


We find the challenge of improving dialysis profiles an exciting one. We have been pleased to see other Australian units joining us in the quest to improve our dialysis programs and to seek better outcomes and lifestyles for our patients.


We are proud to be a unit that is now nationally renowned for “thinking and moving outside of the box”. Clearly this needs to be done with care, with thought and with planning and, importantly, with an eye for detail.


Hopefully, we are proving that that is possible.




Our dialysis team at Barwon Health includes:


Professor John Agar OAM, MBBS, FRACP, FRCP (London)

Nephrologist and past Unit Director (1978 - 2011)
Conjoint Professor of Medicine (Nephrology)
Deakin University and the Geelong Hospital
Site Author

Dr Christine Somerville MBBS, FRACP, PhD

Nephrologist and current Unit Director (2011 - …)


Rosemary Simmonds RN (Nurse Leader, NHHD program)

Others who have contributed are:

Dr Kate Wiggins (Registrar: 2004)

Dr Kumar Mahadevan (Registrar: 2005)

Dr Nigel Toussaint (Registrar: 2006)

Dr Carolyn Clark (Registrar: 2007)

Dr Scott Wilson (Registrar: 2008)

Dr Sridevi Govindarajulu (Registrar: 2009)

Dr Alwie Tjipto (Registrar: 2011)

Dr Holly Hutton (Registrar: 2012)

Dr Michelle Antonis

Dr Vince D'Intini

Dr Robert MacGinley

Dr Michael Desmond

Dr Katherine McDougall

Dr Giles Huet


Janeane Boddington RN, Tony Perkins RN and Raelene Hungerford RN (NHHD Nurses), Claire Waldron RN (Research Nurse)

Richard Knight RN (Unit Nurse Manager)

The dedicated nurses of our in-centre, satellite and PD programs


The Barwon Health Renal Unit team has been proud to receive


The prestigious “Advancement in Service Management Practices” award from the Australian Healthcare Association for its Nocturnal Dialysis Program in 2003.


The Victorian Public Healthcare Award for Innovations in Patient Care – “Changing Practice: Developing a cost-effective, outcome-rich, patient oriented overnight home haemodialysis program”.


The Geelong Researcher of the Year Award: Save the Planet Category for ‘Water Conservation in Hemodialysis: Uncharted Waters’.


The CSIRO ‘Highly Commended Researcher of the Year’ Award for the same project … Water Conservation in Hemodialysis: Uncharted Waters’.


The Barwon Health Renal Unit team would also like to gratefully acknowledge the following for their individual and collective contributions to our program:

The Canadian team led by A/Prof Andreas Pierratos who developed Nocturnal Home Dialysis and inspired us to take it up in Australia


Our patients in Geelong who have had the courage to join with us in pioneering NHHD in Australia along with the many patients from around the world – and especially young Jesse from Canada – whose help has grown the site and maintained my enthusiasm with ever positive feedback.


The Rotary Clubs of the Geelong Region who have helped support the initiation of the project


The staff of the Geelong Hospital, who have had the faith to pursue new directions in dialysis care


Fresenius Medical Care (Australia) who have given freely of their technical support and encouragement


Our colleagues in other renal units in Australia (particularly Peter Kerr at Monash and Carmel Hawley at Princess Alexandra) who have supported us and introduced even bigger programs at their institutions

Our New Zealand colleagues, especially Kelvin Lynn in Christchurch, who showed us the way




Authored by Prof John Agar. Copyright © 2012
Nocturnal Haemodialysis Program, Barwon Health.
All rights reserved. Revised: July 1st 2012