Dreamtime truck brings life giving service
09 March 2012
With the recent acquisition of the 'Purple Truck', The Western
Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal
Corporation (WDNWPT) is one step closer to returning dialysis
patients home in the Western Desert region.
The Purple Truck, an Isuzu FTR 900, was purchased as a mobile
renal dialysis unit to treat remote dialysis patients across
Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia.
Funded by Medicines Australia as a part of a social responsibility
initiative in indigenous health, the mobile dialysis facility was
launched on 12 December 2011 by the Minister for Indigenous Health,
Warren Snowdon MP in Alice Springs.
WDNWPT Manager, Sarah Brown, says the Purple truck has made an
important contribution to improving indigenous health in the
Western Desert region.
"This truck will bring great hope to people who have not visited
their homes for a long time. The design and engineering of the
vehicle is exactly what we need to help dialysis patients," Sarah
The truck body was specifically engineered and built by GSV
Special Vehicles located in Adelaide, to include a dialysis machine
and treatment area and took 12 months to construct. Isuzu was then
approached by GSV Vehicles as the FTR 900 cab chassis was the
perfect fit for the eight metre body.
With comfort and convenience in mind, the body also boasts an
inbuilt kitchen, bathroom, and disabled access for those extra-long
drives across the desert. There is even an iPod dock so that
traditional and gospel music can be played while the patients are
Driven by dialysis nurses who have taken special truck driving
courses, Sarah says the Purple Truck features an automated manual
transmission (AMT) to make the drive easier and has fared well on
the sometimes severely corrugated outback dirt roads.
"The nurses have been happily surprised by the truck's comfort,
especially the driver's suspension seat and the ease of driving and
manoeuvring the truck," she said.
The dialysis machine in the back removes waste and excess water
from the blood, and is used primarily to provide an artificial
replacement for lost kidney function in people with renal
Sarah says the truck allows dialysis patients who are forced to
live away from their traditional homes to better access permanent
dialysis machines in larger cities, to return to their communities
and families and pass on important cultural knowledge and to
participate in community life.
"Not only does the Purple Truck demystify renal disease through
education, it also encourages the local community to engage with
health services early and help slow down the progression to
dialysis. This in turn motivates them to take preventative actions
to avoid being dependent on the dialysis machine for the rest of
their life," she said.
"The dialysis equipment was donated by Fresenius Medical Care and
is adorned with the most spectacular Western Desert paintings
courtesy of Papunya Tula Artists. It's a real show-stopper and has
already attracted significant attention on its drive up from
"Besides its noticeable purple cabin, the truck features
reproductions of paintings by leading Papunya Tula artists
undergoing dialysis. The paintings depict scenes of the dream time
and visions of home - known as Ngurra to the Pintupi people."
WDNWPT began after Papunya Tula artists raised in excess of one
million dollars at an auction of paintings at the Art Gallery of
New South Wales in 2000. Since then the organisation has grown into
a strong community controlled health service at the forefront of
holistic models of care for people with end stage renal
After its launch, the truck went to Papunya, north-west from Alice
Springs, to treat its first patients. Next stop is the Warburton
community where it will set up camp for two months providing
dialysis treatment for people who have been forced to move to Alice
Springs or Kalgoorie for treatment. The Purple Truck treats four
people a week as each patient needs treatment every second
With the truck's success, Sarah says the WDNWPT will be looking to
raise extra funds to keep the truck on the road and establish more
access to dialysis treatment in remote communities.
"We are very happy with the Purple Truck and we are looking
forward to getting many more people home to their families in the
coming years," Sarah said.
For further information, please contact:
Isuzu Australia Limited
For Isuzu Truck releases and photos:
Phone: 03 9867 5611