Not many patients know the mobile lithotripsy unit as intimately has John Hillyer who embarked on his 15th procedure at the end of last year. But it was familiarity that gave him confidence in knowing he was in good hands.

John, a Christchurch resident, was first introduced to Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) by Dr Stuart Gowland, who at the time was pioneering the mobile lithotripsy unit. He was relieved to hear there was an alternative to invasive procedures and traditional hospital visits, especially because he had a ruptured urethra from a historical accident. He recalls from his first consultation being struck by Dr Gowland’s thoroughness and passion for his work. “Mr. Gowland explained very clearly with enthusiasm, may I add all about the process. I felt completely relaxed and confident with him and his explanation,” John says.

“It was explained to me at the time that due to the possibility of a tear occurring in the urethra, lithotripsy treatment was the best alternative. Thus, you can imagine how much of a relief that was for me.”

“I had extreme kidney and abdominal pain, so it was a Godsend to have access to immediate treatment.”

Having the treatment conveniently located close to home also helped reduce a significant amount of stress, enabling John to focus solely on his wellbeing. “The mobile unit was fully accessible and comfortable and exceptionally convenient for my lifestyle schedule at that time.”

From his first treatment in 1995 to his last treatment in 2023, he continues to receive the same high level of care and professionalism from the clinical team, ensuring his comfort and wellbeing throughout the process. His experiences reflect the team’s commitment to providing top-notch care, regardless of location or circumstance. “The experience on the unit, and fellowship with the crew was relaxed and jovial. They were very professional, kind and empathetic. The level of care and communication from the crew was exemplary.”

John would also be one of very few patients to have received kidney stone treatment both on the old mobile lithotripsy unit and the new unit launched in June 2021. He says both units were excellent; when he first saw the new mobile unit he recalls thinking how much the service has grown. “I was in awe of the set-up and advanced technology of the unit. And also, the short time it took to perform my treatment.”

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) uses shock waves to break down kidney stones into smaller fragments, enabling their passage through the urinary tract with reduced discomfort and complications. The non-invasive approach of ESWL minimises the need for surgery and reduces recovery time, making it an attractive option for patients like John who seek effective relief without prolonged hospital stays. John was able to have a swift recovery and return to normal activities. “My recovery was amazing. I needed no pain relief and passed the fragmented stones easily.”

“I have had no kidney or abdominal discomfort since (his last treatment).”

As John reflects on his journey, he recognises the significance of the mobile lithotripsy unit and its unique service, and how having timely access to healthcare paved the way to better health.

(Pictured above L-R: Standing outside the Mobile Lithotripsy Unit – Karen Miller, Medical Imaging Technologist; John Hillyer, patient; and Simon Felton, Medical Imaging Technologist)