Once your kidneys’ function is so diminished that they no longer work and you are unable to find a kidney donor, you would definitely qualify to go on dialysis. There are a couple of options when it comes to dialysis treatment.
Without at least one properly functioning kidney, your body is unable to completely rid waste products from your blood. Here is where dialysis enters the picture. It basically takes the blood from your system, cleanses it of these impurities and sends this cleansed blood back into your system. (Trust me, there are technical terms that are used for each step of the process. And, I’m quite sure I’ve managed to make it way too simplistic but it’s easier for me to understand how it works.)
There are basically two types of dialysis: one that you can go to a dialysis center for about three hours and have a professional nursing staff do it for you and the other that you can do daily at your own home. (Most people who do their own, at home, will usually hook-up to a small dialysis unit at night so it will work while they sleep.)
Like anything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. A huge benefit for me to do home dialysis would be the fact that your body does not have a chance to feel “awful” during that middle day when you do not go to the dialysis center as the toxins start to build in your system. (At least that is what I was told by a dialysis nurse specialist.) There are also less food and fluid restrictions in daily home dialysis rather than going to a dialysis center three times a week. Plus the independence will be there (during the times I’m not leashed to the dialysis machine.) Perhaps the greatest disadvantage is the fact that I will have to do it myself rather than have professionals do it for me. Another disadvantage is the potential for infection of the lining on the inside of my belly.
When the time comes and if a donor is not found before then, in light of the potential risk involved, I definitely think I will go down the road of doing it myself at home.
One of my diabetes kidney specialists nearly fell out of his chair when I asked a simple question: If I have to go on dialysis and suppose a replacement kidney is not found, how long will I live on dialysis? After he told me in his many years of practice this was the first time someone asked him that question, he responded: “Life expectancy after you go on dialysis is usually up to 5 years.” (He seemed extremely uncomfortable saying this while I matter of factly accepted it.)