New device allow kidney patients treat themselves at home


POSTED: Sunday, April 15, 2012 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, April 15, 2012 - 12:04pm

For people with kidney failure, places like Rhode Island Hospital's Outpatient Dialysis Center are a lifeline.

The hemodialysis process removes waste products and toxins from the body.

Michaela Terry, a visiting nurse, used to be a regular.

"Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday for three and a half hours to four hours, and it was after I worked all day and if I got there late it was longer. I'd have to run and it took a lot out of me," Terry said.

But everything changed for her last year.

Terry does her own hemodialysis at home, five nights a week for shorter periods of time.

"I like the flexibility of I can do it at 7:30 p.m., do my two hours and 12 minutes and just go to bed and that's it," she said.

Terry said it's covered by insurance.

To get started involves a month or so of training.

"Depending on how quickly they pick up the process," Terry said.

Terry had it in no time.

"I have a man made fistula, it's an artery and a vein that are joined together," she said.

It is through here that her treatments are administered.

With the home machine, the blood flow is much slower than traditional dialysis. 

"Physiologically, it's a much gentler treatment to do," said  Dr. George Bayliss of Rhode Island Hospital.

It also keeps Terry independent and mobile.

"I've been on several vacations with it, and it's great," she said.

It's keeping her going until she gets the call she's been waiting for a donor kidney is available.

"I'm No. 2 on the list, so hopefully any day now," Terry said.

So who's the perfect candidate for home hemodialysis?

"It's somebody who's independent, somebody who's able to take care of themselves, somebody who has a good support network to help them take care of themselves," said Dr. Bayliss.

Rhode Island Hospital has three patients on the home hemodialysis.

Bayliss said it's not for everyone, but is an option especially for those people who are motivated and like a little more independence.

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