Carry-On Dialysis: It's Your Right

Portable dialysis machines now allowed on aircrafts for free

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

(RxWiki News) Wheelchairs, canes and oxygen have been allowed on board airplanes for some time. But not all assistive devices have been allowed for free. Dialysis machines for the kidneys were on that list.

Now, individuals with kidney failure who carry a portable dialysis machine are allowed to bring the device on board free of charge.

"Check the Office of Aviation Enforcement for items you can bring on board."

Dialysis regulates various body systems when the kidneys fail. The process involves using a dialysis machine to remove waste and extra water from building up in the body, control blood pressure and maintain a safe level of sodium, bicarbonate and potassium in the blood.

The device will not count towards a passenger's carry-on limit and will have priority over other items brought onto the aircraft free of charge.

Using the dialysis machine on board will not generally be allowed, as how the machine affects the communication or navigation systems of aircraft is not yet known.

By law, wheelchairs, oxygen, canes and personal ventilators and respirators were explicitly allowed on board as required under the Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel of the Air Carrier Access Act.

Previously, there was no mention of the dialysis machines in the act. Many individuals with the portable dialysis machines had difficulty bringing them aboard, according to Rich Berkowitz, founder and president of Home Dialyzors United (HDU), a non-profit that supports and advocates for home dialysis.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), US and foreign air carriers are prohibited from discriminating against a person on the basis of his or her disability.

"This is a huge victory for home dialyzors who travel by air with their portable dialysis machines," Berkowitz said in a press release. "With almost 40,000 people in the US today using some form of portable dialysis machine, this guarantees that they will no longer face discrimination by air carriers refusing to carry their life-saving dialysis devices for no charge, or demanding payment of excessive freight charges to carry their machines in the plane’s cargo holds."

These updates to the Air Carrier Access Act were made June 3 by the US Department of Transportation and the Office of Aviation Enforcement.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 27, 2013
Last Updated:
December 31, 2013