Braveman

Dialysis patient Ben Kelly launches his first comic book Braveman, the first comic book by young author and renal dialysis patient Ben Kelly, will be officially launched at B. Braun Wellstone Wexford Renal Care Centre on Friday 5 November.  Featuring characters such as Doctor Invincible, Nurse Nora and The Patients, Braveman was created by Ben Kelly through the Waterford Healing Arts Trust Arts Programme in Renal Dialysis at University Hospital Waterford and supported by staff at the B. Braun Wellstone Wexford Renal Care Centre.  Copies of Braveman will be available at the launch and afterwards from Waterford Healing Arts Trust.  Further details are available from 051 842664.

Ben Kelly is an extraordinary person.  With his vivid imagination and mischievous sense of humour, in Braveman he has created a superhero who is both inspirational and entertaining, while offering the reader a rare glimpse into the challenges and camaraderie of life on dialysis.

Debbie Macdonald, Clinic Manager of B. Braun Wellstone Wexford Renal Care Centre, explains how Braveman came about: “When Ben was transferred from the paediatric dialysis services in Temple Street Hospital to the adult services at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), it was a huge change for him.  To help with the transition, Ben was introduced to artist Philip Cullen from Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT).  Knowing he loved Marvel comics, Philip worked with Ben, encouraging and supporting him to create his own superhero and tell his story, in his own voice.  As Ben lives in Wexford, he was subsequently transferred to our clinic at the B. Braun Wellstone Wexford Renal Care Centre.  With COVID came more change for everyone and a new normal of virtual meetings.  Philip and Ben kept their ideas flowing virtually, by phone, Zoom and Skype, and the project progressed.  The regular communication, encouragement and creative outlet with Philip also helped Ben to settle in to Wellstone and the team here were keen to keep this going.  Ben went from strength to strength and showed great determination to tell his story.  He is an integral part of our Wexford dialysis family now and we are immensely proud of his achievement.  Ben always has a smile on his face and cheers everyone up with his positivity (and singing!).  I don’t think we can ever underestimate the benefits that any arts experience brings to dialysis patients and the positive effect it has on their wellbeing.  I look forward to working with WHAT in the future to encourage other patients in our unit to work on their own projects.”

Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), adds “We are thrilled to celebrate the launch of Ben Kelly’s first comic book Braveman.  Ben’s fantastic imagination and sense of humour leap off the pages of Braveman and his brilliant story will also help people to see the extraordinary strength and resilience of renal dialysis patients.  We’re very proud that Braveman has come about through our arts programme in the dialysis unit of University Hospital Waterford, where we first met Ben, and we’re very grateful to all the team at B. Braun Wellstone Wexford Renal Care Centre for facilitating us to continue this project with Ben when he moved to the clinic at Sinnottstown Lane.  We are very grateful to artist Philip Cullen, who, as Debbie has mentioned, supported Ben through the process of creating Braveman, embracing the challenge of continuing the project remotely and throughout COVID.  We would also like to express our sincere appreciation to the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund for financially supporting our arts programme in renal dialysis.  We are really thrilled for Ben and wish him every success.”

Ben Kelly says that Braveman is a story about his life: “I’m very brave coming to the hospital three times a week.  I’ve had a lot of operations in my life, like transplants and haemodialysis and now I’m waiting for my third transplant.  Dialysis is life-saving treatment, but being on the machine is hard.  I’m starting to become a DJ, as I love music, and I love gaming and drawing.  I also want to say thank you to all of the nurses and doctors and my family, particularly my Uncle Joseph, who gave me one of his kidneys, and keep yourselves healthy and safe.”

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation.  Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and other healthcare settings.  WHAT has been running an arts programme in the renal dialysis unit of UHW since 2007, supported by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund.  WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity.  Core funded by the Arts Council, WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie

B. Braun protects and improves the lives of people around the world.  With over 64,000 employees, the company shares expertise and develops effective solutions and guiding standards for the healthcare system in a constructive dialogue with customers and partners.  B. Braun Ireland is over 40 years old and includes six sites with over 250 employees.  Three of these sites, based in Wexford, Portlaoise and Galway, are Wellstone renal care centres, providing state of the art treatment in the heart of communities.  Further information about the B. Braun renal care centres is available from info.ie@bbraun.com or www.bbraun.com

ENDS