Healthy kidneys remove waste from your blood and produce hormones your body needs. If your kidneys fail, you either need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to perform many of the functions of the kidney. Dialysis can help prevent problems resulting from kidney failure and it allows people with kidney failure to live productive lives. Dialysis filters your blood, and like a health kidney, removes waste from your blood. Patients using dialysis are also required to follow a strict diet in order to stay healthy. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. There are different advantages and disadvantages with both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would work better for you.

Recently Answered

  • 1 Answer
    If you are on dialysis and want to travel, consider the following tips:
    • Hand-carry essential medical information, your medicines, and other medical supplies in case of the unexpected, such as lost luggage.
    • Bring enough of your medications to last for your entire trip, with enough extra to deal with possible emergencies. Also carry written prescriptions just in case.
    • If you need extra assistance boarding a plane or train, inform personnel when you check in so they can give you special instructions.
    • If you are planning to travel by plane or train, make arrangements for any special meals such as low-salt, low-fat or diabetic, at the time that you make your reservations.
    • When making a hotel reservation, you can request a first-floor room or a handicapped-accessible room, if stairs or distances are a problem.
    • If you use a travel agent, tell the agent about any special needs you may have, such as special meals, accessible rooms and assistance while changing planes. The agent can also advise you about special considerations regarding safe transport of dialysis supplies while traveling to foreign countries.
  • 1 Answer
    If you are on dialysis, Medicare is your primary insurance coverage when you travel. Medicare will pay for 80% of your treatment costs within the U.S. and its territories. You will be responsible for the remaining 20% not covered by Medicare. If you have secondary insurance, it may cover this 20%. However, you may have to pay this 20% ""up front"" and bill your insurance later. Check with the transient dialysis center about its policy on this. Most state Medicaid programs will not pay for treatment outside of your home state.

    If you have commercial insurance as your primary insurance, you may need to request a letter from your insurance company stating it will pay for your treatment at the transient dialysis center. Some commercial insurance will pay for dialysis outside of the U.S. Transient dialysis centers will often call and verify this coverage themselves. Be sure to allow enough planning time to make these arrangements.

    A doctor's fee may also be charged by the transient dialysis center. Be sure to ask what portion of this charge will be your responsibility.
  • 1 Answer
    People on peritoneal dialysis are not dependent on the availability of a dialysis unit. However, you will still need to plan ahead and arrange for back-up medical care for your trips, as do people on hemodialysis. Typically, this would mean contacting a dialysis center in the area and asking if they would be available should a problem arise. The center may request a copy of your medical records in advance. You should always carry a copy of your records with you as well.

    People who do continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) should carry enough supplies for the length of the trip, plus some extra supplies in case of problems. For longer stays, it may also be possible to arrange for delivery of supplies to your destination. Make sure these supplies have arrived before you leave for your trip. People on CAPD also need to plan for adequate clean space where they can do their exchanges while traveling.

    People who do automatic peritoneal dialysis (APD) and who plan to travel for one week or longer can arrange for supplies to be delivered to their destination. Smaller cycler machines are now available, which are easy to carry on airplanes and use in hotel rooms and campers.
  • 1 Answer
    It is possible that you may unexpectedly require hospitalization when you are traveling. If this should happen, your transient doctor is prepared for this possibility and will care for you during your hospital stay. He or she will probably talk to your regular doctor to coordinate your care. You may feel more comfortable knowing that this coordination has taken place.

    Before you begin your trip, you will most likely have a doctor assigned to you by your transient dialysis center. Find out how to contact the doctor when you first arrive. If you do become ill, call the dialysis center or doctor as instructed.

    Being hospitalized while away from home can be a stressful experience for anyone, and it certainly can change your travel plans. Preparing ahead for this possibility can help make the experience less stressful. The following suggestions may be helpful:
    • Make sure your family knows your travel plans.
    • Make sure you have important phone numbers, such as your regular doctor and dialysis center. Have a copy of your medical records with you while traveling.
    • Make sure anyone who is traveling with you knows where you keep your records and your medical needs.
    • Make sure to bring enough medications for the entire trip, with enough extra for possible emergencies, such as lost luggage. Also carry written prescriptions, just in case.
    If you are on hemodialysis, be realistic when planning travel activities. Don't overdo it. Allow enough time to enjoy activities without becoming overtired. Also, be sure to continue your dialysis diet and fluid restrictions.
  • 1 Answer
    You may want to ask the following questions when making your arrangements for hemodialysis when traveling:
    • What is the average treatment length of dialysis at the center?
    • Can they provide the treatment time your doctor has prescribed?
    • What are the hours and days of operation? Traveling patients are often placed on an evening shift, which could end as early as 7:30 pm or as late as 2:00 am.
    • What types of dialyzers are used?
    • Do they have the same type of dialyzer that you use at your home center?
    • What types of dialysis machine does the center have (conventional, high flux capability)?
    • Does the center routinely provide lidocaine?
    • Are people permitted to eat or drink while on dialysis?
    • Is an ice machine available?
    • Is public transportation available to get to the center?
    • How many people are assigned to each nurse or patient care technician?
    • Can you get all the medications you get at your home center during dialysis?
  • 1 Answer
    If you are on hemodialysis and are traveling, most dialysis centers will require the following information in order to assess your health and plan for your treatments:
    • the dates you need dialysis treatment
    • information, including your name, address, and phone number
    • medical history and recent physical exam reports
    • recent lab results
    • recent electrocardiogram (EKG)
    • recent chest x-ray
    • your dialysis prescription, with three to five recent treatment records
    • dialysis access type
    • special needs or dialysis requirements
    • information about your general health
    • insurance information
    • where you will be staying in the area
    • a list of the medications you take during treatment and at home
    This information will be sent to your transient center for review. It is important for the doctor and transient center to know as much about you as possible to ensure the right care while visiting their center. In addition to mailing your records to the center, you should carry a copy with you.
  • 1 Answer
    Many hemodialysis centers have a staff member who is experienced in arranging hemodialysis treatments away from home (transient dialysis). Some centers will assist people in making arrangements through a medical travel coordinator. Ask your social worker or primary nurse if there is such a service at your center.

    It is important to start planning at least six to eight weeks in advance. More time should be allowed for popular vacation spots, or travel during holidays. Be flexible about the dates for your trip, because space in dialysis units may be limited. If you want to have your treatments on specific days and at specific times, let the center know in advance. The unit may not always be able to honor your request because space is limited.

    You or your medical travel coordinator may need to contact more than one dialysis center to find one that can provide dialysis for you. Check with the center as soon as you arrive to confirm your appointments. You may also want to visit the center and meet the staff so you will feel more comfortable. Before doing this, however, make an appointment with the social worker or nurse manager at the dialysis center you plan to visit.

    If you plan to visit friends or family out of town, they may be able to give you the name and address of the dialysis center nearest them. Resource publications listing dialysis centers around the world that are willing to accept transient dialysis patients should be available at your center. Your social worker or the medical travel coordinator at your center will be able to assist you.

    If you need to travel in an emergency, many dialysis centers make every effort to accommodate people in the event of an emergency, such as illness or death of a family member. Dialysis records will need to be faxed ahead.  You can also carry a copy in hand with you.
  • 1 Answer
    If you are on dialysis, some changes in your body make it hard to become pregnant. For example, most women on dialysis have anemia (a low red blood cell count) and hormonal changes. This may keep these women from having regular menstrual periods.

    Women with kidney failure are usually advised against becoming pregnant. The rate of complications is very high. Risks to both the mother and developing fetus are high. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider. If you become pregnant, you will need close medical supervision, changes in medicine and more dialysis.