The haemodialysis unit at the new Son Llàtzer hosptial was officially opened yesterday by health minister Aina Salom, accompanied by the hospital manager Josep M Pomar, the director of internal medicine Joan Buades and the head of the unit, Joan Gascó. Also present were the chairwoman of Alcer (kidney sufferers association) Manuela de la Vega and other members of the association. The unit was opened to patients on Monday and it already has nine patients who receive dialysis three times a week. It can at present take up to 32 patients, in turns, and it is expected to reach this number by April. When the kidney unit is fully operational it will be able to treat 64 patients, half the population with kidney problems who come under its area of influence. Dr Gascó said that the number of kidney patients needing dialysis was rising at the rate of ten per cent a year. He added that the technique which the patients need is “marked by the aging of the population and the improvement in life expectancy.” He then went on to say that the unit has three nephrologists, seven nurses and four auxiliary nurses. Aina Salom said that the opening of the unit was “just another example of the efforts made by workers and management to get the hospital up and running as soon as possible.” Manuela de la Vega said that Alcer was happy about the new unit at Son Llatzer. A total of 19 kidney transplants were performed in the Balearics last year and 40 in the previous year, it was revealed at the opening.