WEST HAVEN — Pat Cuevas is a woman on the go — and she’s not about to allow a decrease in her kidney function to put a dent in her day.
The 69-year-old West Haven woman was diagnosed with a kidney stone the size of an egg two years ago. Surgery to remove the stone left her with decreased kidney function. Dialysis was her only option.
“I had to be at the dialysis center three days a week and I couldn’t stand it,” she said. “I wanted to be on my own so I could have my freedom back.”
Liberty Dialysis told Cuevas about peritoneal dialysis, a kidney dialysis treatment that can be done at home.
“Patients who suffer from kidney failure no longer have working kidneys to filter waste from the blood,” said Dr. Hamid Mian, a physician at Liberty Dialysis in Ogden. “That is where dialysis is needed to sustain a patient’s life and help extract and clean the blood when the kidneys no longer function. Patients who are diagnosed with kidney failure depend on dialysis to survive.”
Peritoneal dialysis involves the removal of excess fluids and waste products through the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum), which acts as a natural filter, Mian said. A special fluid is placed in the abdomen. Waste products and extra water move through the peritoneum into the fluid. The used fluid is then drained and replaced with fresh fluid.
According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, which is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, approximately 26,114 people in the United States use peritoneal dialysis, compared with 325,299 who receive dialysis in a treatment center.
“Peritoneal dialysis is often an optimum choice for dialysis patients who want to be treated at home, travel and conduct their own treatment,” Mian said. “Nurse technicians and physicians educate PD patients on how to conduct their dialysis.”
Once training is complete, patients can give themselves their own treatment at home, even while they sleep.
“I absolutely love it,” Cuevas said. “I do my treatments seven days a week and I do them at night, so by morning I’m free to go and do whatever I want to do.”
Cuevas, who volunteers at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said she is an active woman.
“I like my freedom, and if you’re going to have to be on dialysis, this is absolutely the way to go in my opinion,” she said. “It takes a little while to know what to do with your bags. You have to keep your hands clean and things need to be sterile, but it’s not hard at all.”
Peritoneal dialysis isn’t an option for everyone, Mian said. Those who do not qualify must have their treatments done in a hospital or clinic setting.
Peritoneal dialysis might not work for you if you have extensive surgical scars in your abdomen, you have a limited ability to care for yourself or lack caregiving support at home, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease or frequent bouts of diverticulitis, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
One in 10 Americans has some level of kidney disease, Mian said. Some of the causes include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney inflammation and cysts in the kidneys.