In Belgium, about 1,000 people are affected by cystic fibrosis. In the past, CF was classified as a paediatric disease, but today there are many adults with this condition. This is because advances in medicine have made it possible to extend the life expectancy of patients considerably: 15 years ago, the average life expectancy was around 20 - now it’s over 40. And every year, this life expectancy increases by 1.2 years. Today, many patients with cystic fibrosis are able to study, marry and have children. The IRIS Network is delighted by the extraordinary progress achieved in this field and is now concentrating its energy on transitional treatment of the disease. Consequently, the IRIS Network has set up transitional units, where doctors from our adult departments come and see young patients in the paediatric units over a two-year period to ensure, in collaboration with the paediatricians concerned, an effective and appropriate transition for young adults. This stage is clearly crucial for the compliance and well-being of patients.
Along with the Erasmus Hospital and the Brussels Free University Cystic Fibrosis Institute, the iris Network is one of seven centres in Belgium, who offer treatment of cystic fibrosis. The IRIS Network provides care for children, while the Erasmus Hospital is responsible for lung transplants and the monitoring of adults. Together, they form one of the most largest centres in Belgium, with around 180 patients under their care.
IRIS is also heavily involved in therapeutic research: new treatments are currently being tested within the Network. The considerable advances, achieved in this field, add further hope, that a cure may soon be found for this disease.
Offering the best possible interdisciplinary service
For many years, the IRIS Network has favoured an interdisciplinary approach to the care of patients with cystic fibrosis: doctors, but also dieticians, physiotherapists, psychologists and social nurses work together to offer patients the best possible service on a clinical, professional, but also human level. In chronic conditions such as this, where complications can often be frequent and unexpected, IRIS Network staff seek to make themselves as available as possible. Patients know that their doctors and paramedics will be there for them with a sympathetic ear and the care and advice they need.