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Haemodialysis

(ONE PHOTO OF PATIENT UNDERGOING DIALYSIS)
This form of dialysis removes waste products from the blood by passing it out of the body, through a filtering system (dialyser) and returning it, cleaned, to the body.

While in the filtering system, the blood flows through tubes made of a membrane that allows the waste products (which are much smaller than blood cells) to pass out through it.

The waste products pass through the membrane into a dialysis solution (dialysate), then out of the machine. The “clean” blood is carried on through and returned safely to the body.

This happens over and over again throughout the dialysis session. Each time the “clean” blood is returned to the body, it picks up more waste products from the cells it circulates through, and brings these newly-collected toxins back to the dialyser to be removed.

Fresh dialysate is passed through continuously, to make the rate of the cleaning process as fast as possible.

As well as cleaning the blood, the dialysis machine also removes excess water. This part of the process is called ultrafiltration which can be done separately without dialysis.

It takes about 4 hours (perhaps more) to complete a good session of haemodialysis, which needs to be done 3 times a week.

When you have to undergo Haemodialysis, you have to construct access. There are two common forms of access:

  1. 1.    haemocath
  2. AV (arterio-venous) fistula,

Haemocath

AV (arterio-venous) fistula

Home Haemodialysis

Some patients have the option of doing home haemodialysis, with a dialysis machine at home. Whether you qualify will depend on whether you are medically suitable and, possibly, on whether or not you live with someone who can support you and deal with any emergencies.

In addition, you will need a home that has space for accommodating not only the machine, but the supplies – disposable lines, fluids, drugs, etc – that go with it (the supplies will be delivered regularly from your Renal Unit). If your home is too small, it is worth discussing this problem with your Renal Social Worker.

Some alterations to your plumbing and electricity supply may also be needed. And you will certainly need to have a telephone.

If you wish to do home haemodialysis, you will need comprehensive training in order to become confident and self-reliant. The length of training varies, depending on the individual – it could be from 6 to 16 weeks or longer. And for the first weeks of home haemodialysis, a member of your Renal Unit staff will be with you when you dialyse.

Dialysing at home brings the benefits of increased independence from your Renal Unit and choice about how you schedule your sessions.

On the down side, however, it can put a strain on the people you live with. It also involves time preparing the machine for each session (unlike in your Renal Unit, where the machine is ready for use when you arrive).