Take Control with Dialysis at Home

More kidney failure patients are doing hemodialysis at home

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When a person suffers kidney failure, their kidneys can no longer remove waste from the body. The best fix for kidney failure is an organ transplant, but the wait for a new kidney can take years.

In the meantime, many patients with kidney failure remove waste products from their body through hemodialysis - a treatment that can seriously affect the quality of life for patients who have to go to a dialysis center day after day.

On the other hand, patients who do in-home hemodialysis often say they have gained more control of their lives. And now, more and more patients are using in-home hemodialysis, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

"More kidney patients are choosing dialysis at home."

Hemodialysis is a treatment that takes over the job that a patient's kidneys can no longer perform. During a hemodialysis session, a patient's blood is taken out of the body a few ounces at a time. The blood then passes through a filter that gets rid of wastes. After passing through the filter, the blood is pumped back into the patient's body.

Around 400,000 patients in the United States are on hemodialysis. The vast majority of these patients (over 90 percent) go to hemodialysis centers multiple times a week for hours at a time.

These frequent trips are more than a hassle; they can make patients feel like they are losing control over their lives as they become slaves to a rigorous schedule.

However, NxStage System One - the maker of the home dialysis machine - is reporting that the number of kidney patients doing dialysis at home has doubled to more than 5,000 patients over the past five years.

Patients have to go through about a month of training before they are ready to do dialysis at home. But the reward gained at the end of this training is that patients get to completely control their schedule, Dr. Byron Welch - a kidney doctor at Satellite Healthcare's WellBound hemodialysis program - told the Statesman.

This new control over life was extremely important for Athens, Michigan resident Carmen C.

In 1981, Carmen was diagnosed with kidney disease. Two years later, she started hemodialysis. Less than a year later, her brother donated a kidney. She struggled for a decade as her body tried to reject the kidney, until in 1994, the kidney failed. That same year, she received another kidney transplant with also ended up being rejected by her body.

At this point, Carmen was taken over by sadness. She felt like she was not going to be there for her family. However, as soon as in-home dialysis became available, Carmen signed up for the treatment at her center.

She says that being able to do dialysis at home as given her and her family "a new lease on life."

Dr. Brigitte Schiller, chief medical officer of Satellite Healthcare in San Jose, California, explained to the Statesman how dialysis clinics also can benefit from in-home dialysis. She says that in-home dialysis takes away some of clinics' overhead costs such as staffing.

Schiller adds that patients who do dialysis at home usually do it more often, sometimes as much as seven times a week. These patients also can do their dialysis for shorter amounts of time. They generally feel better and sleep better. They also do not have to take as much medication, which makes treatment cheaper. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 13, 2011
Last Updated:
June 14, 2011