Kidney Disease is for life, there is no cure but there are treatments, important treatments that can help to prolong your life. However, all the dieting, fitness and general healthiness are great but at some point the kidneys will fail, fail enough that you will need support. This comes in the form of a Transplant and/or Dialysis
I can only talk about the Dialysis options, I’ve not started dialysis and I won’t pretend I’m an expert. There are 2 choices, assuming your body allows, that is Hemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis. Both options do the same thing, they replace what the kidneys do, clean your blood
HD sees you hooked up to a machine for 4 hours a time, 3 times a week, either in hospital or if you’re fortunate enough at home and your blood is removed from your body, filtered in a machine and then returned to your body. To prep for HD you’ll need to have an operation to create a fistula in your arm which is suitable enough to be needled to allow blood flow through the process
PD sees you have an operation to insert a tube into the lining of your abdomen which allows you to add and remove special fluid which does the cleaning of your blood internally. This process can be done overnight with the patient hooked to a machine whilst sleeping or the process of adding and removing fluid can be done 4 times a day, every day
As a patient you sometimes don’t have the luxury of choosing your preferred option but I have opted for PD if I need to start Dialysis as I believe that gives me the better lifestyle option with my current working situation
Ideally though you would have a transplant prior to needing to start Dialysis and this is what I am hopeful of. A transplant will be either through someone you know (live donation) or can be from someone you don’t know (live or deceased donation)
I’ve fortunate that my wife has offered a kidney to me but unfortunately we’re not an ideal match so have been continuously placed into the paired donation scheme which aims to find someone who is in a similar position to swap with. There is a more information about the process of becoming a donor on the linked page from the My Story page. As someone once told me “so it’s like wife swap but with kidneys?”, not a perfect way of describing the situation but I guess you get what it means!
One thing is sure, without the above preventions then there would be far more deaths involving Kidney Disease. The National Kidney Foundation offers statistics that suggest the average life expectancy when on Dialysis is around 10-15 years which decreases the older you are, however 40-50 years ago a failed kidney meant death was immenent