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Dialysis patients have portable option

December 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
For the first time, dialysis providers are required by law to tell every patient about all their treatment options. Most only know about standard dialysis - where patients have to stay at a clinic for up to four hours a visit. But there's one that offers people freedom and portability.About five times a day, 35-year-old Litisha Wheeler cleans out her system using gravity. An IV bag of glucose solution enters her abdomen through a catheter. Within 30 minutes, waste solution is drained out.

Seven years ago, she discovered lupus destroyed her kidneys.

"I was the youngest patient that they had seen in the ward in awhile. I was 28 when I went into renal failure. They told me about a wonderful therapy called peritoneal dialysis," said Wheeler.

It gives her the freedom to do it at home or take it on the road.

"And when we travel they actually make arrangements for me to get the supplies that I need shipped to the hotel," said Wheeler.

At the Fresenius Clinic, most patients get hemo-dialysis. An outside machine filters the blood. Through peritoneal dialysis or PD, waste products are filtered inside the abdominal cavity.

"Hemo has a higher efficacy. But PD because you're doing more treatment has a better outcome," said home therapy nurse, Rick Kinkel.

Approximately 91.6 percent of renal failure patients in the U.S. do the standard in-center hemo-dialysis three times a week.

That means less than eight percent are portable or in-home like Litisha. Hygiene is a big concern since infection with PD can be a huge a problem.

Kinkel says most patients simply need to be educated.

"We try to get patients early before they need dialysis. And we get them education so they can make an informed decision on what modality would be best for them," said Kinkel.

"I just feel more energized because you're constantly on dialysis. You are constantly taking that waste out of your body. It is the closest thing in my opinion you can have to a kidney that's functioning," said Wheeler.

Litisha hopes to get on a kidney transplant list sometime next year. Peritoneal dialysis does require surgery to get the catheter in place and again hygiene is very important to prevent infections.


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