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Why do Home Haemodialysis?

Paul Swift, a home haemodialysis patient from Australia, discusses his experiences of home haemodialysis. 

If the opportunity is there, why not? When I first started dialysis in a hospital dialysis ward, within about 2 weeks I was approached by the nurses seeking my interest in doing home dialysis. They had obviously been discretely summing me up, regarding my approach to treatment. I showed interest straight away, however my wife was hesitant, but after looking at the positives she was convinced that was the way to go.

In my case, I was travelling for 1 ½ hours each way to the hospital, and had set times that I had to be there 3 times per week, so this was one big incentive to do it at home. As it turned out, the best part of home haemodialysis is being able to vary my start times, within reason, to suit my lifestyle, more about this later.

My training was during my normal dialysis sessions in the hospital, everything was at my own pace as I was gradually introduced to different parts of my treatment. Inserting the needles was left to near the end of training, but it turned out to be very easy. After about 8 weeks of training, everything was set up to have dialysis at home. I must mention that I am from Australia, over here, everything is supplied to enable patients to do home haemodialysis, including plumbing the machine into your house, the machine itself and all consumables.

Home dialysis is slightly different to having it done in a hospital, my regular routine now is having it every second day, therefor I have 7 x 5 hour sessions every fortnight. In hospital it was only 6 sessions per fortnight, that extra treatment is a bonus. The more dialysis you can have, the better it is for you. Now we come to what I think is the best part, for a start, I dialysed in the middle of the day, finishing just in time for my evening meal. This is fine in winter when it's raining outside, but as the weather improves I alter my time to start at 5 pm, this means that I have the whole day to enjoy activities outside before going on dialysis. However, having said that, there is another positive in that I can have dialysis in the morning and have the evening free to go out with friends to dinner.

Having dialysis every second day sometimes conflicts with doctor appointments, or family commitments like weddings, parties etc. On these occasions, with great care, I can alter my days that I do dialysis, for example, if there is a family commitment on a day that I would normally have dialysis, let's say a Saturday, I will have dialysis for 5 hours on Thursday and have a run of 4 hours on the Friday , leaving the whole of Saturday free to enjoy the occasion.

Of course, the best thing is to take a positive attitude to your health regimen, dialysis is a hassle, but the alternatives are not good. I don't let it rule my life, I do it so I can enjoy more life.

- Paul Swift, a home haemodialysis patient in Australia