The Value of Dialysis

Man receiving dialysis treatment

Severe dehydration, trauma, and other conditions can lead to kidney failure. Dialysis is an interim procedure until kidney transplant is available.

Publish 12 August 2021

How Kidneys Function

Organs, like kidneys, function within our bodies without conscious effort—until they stop. Our kidneys filter impurities in the blood that are discharged through urina­tion. Without this process, we accumulate toxic wastes.

Inability to remove potassium from the blood­stream can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and sudden death. Filtering liquid waste is so important that we have a backup—two kidneys. If one malfunc­tions, the other can take over.

Kidney failure occurs when the organs lose over 85% of their function. The cause can be diabetes, disease, fluid deprivation, trauma, or genetics. Dialysis is an external replication of some kidney functions.

Besides waste removal, dialysis maintains a safe level of chemicals such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate. Though kidney failure is usually permanent, some types of acute renal failure improve after treatment.

Dialysis Treatments

Depending on the type of dialysis, it can take place in a hospital, in a separate dialysis center, or in your home. Hemodialysis treatment lasts about four hours, three times weekly. A high-flux hemodialysis may take less time.

Several types of peritoneal dialysis are possible at home. Treatment is either nightly or throughout each day. Average life expectancy on dialysis is 5–10 years. Yet, many patients live well on dialysis for 20 or even 30 years.

People who are on dialysis and who have also contracted COVID-19 are high-risk. If there is availability, hospital admission is possible. In the event your symptoms are mild, you should be able to go to your dialysis center for treatments. Prior notification of your condition is necessary so personnel can implement appropriate protocol.

Liver Transplants

A liver transplant reduces or eliminates the need for dialysis. A study of 44 patients revealed 27% required post-transplant dialysis for an average of 10.5 days.

Placement of the donor kidney does not need to be in position of the malfunc­tion­ing one. During the 2–4 hour surgery, the kidney is usually inserted in the front (anterior) part of the lower abdomen, within the pelvis.

Removal of the original kidney is not necessary unless it is causing severe problems. This might be uncontrollable high blood pressure, frequent kidney infections, or abnormal enlargement.

UPDATED: MAR 24, 2023

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