Hemodialysis or HD is a life-preserving treatment for patients with kidney failure. It is absolutely vital for hundreds of thousands of people in US who suffer from this serious disease. If done in medical establishments, HD requires trips three times a week for appointments, which can be less than convenient. Luckily, there are devices and machines that allow hemodialysis to be performed at home.
The requirements for home dialysis are fairly modest. The home needs to have a special room for the machine and supplies, and in some cases it should have purified water.
Requirements for home hemodialysis
In order to qualify for home hemodialysis, the patient must start learning about dialysis at the clinic, with the help of a dialysis nurse. Most patients have care partners or helpers who train with them, because it is sometimes necessary to have a partner when doing HD at home. However, if the patient can do all the steps by him or herself, the helper may not be required.
If a patient qualifies for home HD, he or she will receive the dialysis machine from a clinic or from a supplier, without having to pay for it. The supplies, such as dialysis solution, are delivered at home once or twice a month.
The training, which takes from three to eight weeks, teaches the patient how to prepare the supplies and the equipment, how to insert the needle, monitor the machine, control his or her blood pressure and heart rate, keep records, clean the equipment after the use and order fresh supplies.
The patient needs to see his or her nephrologist and a dietitian once a month. Blood tests are performed on a regular basis to check if any problems, such as anemia or elevated levels of potassium, have occurred.
Advantages of home hemodialysis
One of the biggest advantages of home HD is that the patient gets to schedule his or her own treatments. The patient can choose between short daily dialysis each day, which lasts much shorter because it is more frequent, and long nightly dialysis, which allows more free time during the day.
Home hemodyalisis allows more frequent dialyzing, which leads to cleaner blood and consequently less fluid build-up. Other benefits of home HD include more stable blood pressure with fewer drugs, better control of phosphate levels, more liberal diet and fluid intake, more energy, less nausea and a generally better quality of life compared to hemodialysis done in clinic.