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Home dialysis changes the lives of Utah kidney patients



MURI – Not long after Zach Thomas was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, he knew that dialysis was inevitable.

The self-proclaimed ski boom, a late-90s transplant from New York City, is grateful such a thing exists, but it still does not enjoy the time when it is connected to a machine to facilitate what the body he can't do it.

"I was lucky to have gotten my illness early enough and stayed ahead of the game," Thomas, who lives in Kamas, told the recent official opening of the new kidney care center at Intermountain Medical Center.

The 43-year-old is a patient at the facility, but because of innovative technology, he is able to

"It's life-saving as a magic pill," Thomas said. If you do it yourself, you save on travel and time spent in the medical office several times a week.

“The home environment is much more comfortable. You have to be where you want to be with your family, "he said. In addition, he may spend more time with his wife and 3-year-old son, who are usually with him during the nearly three-hour procedure, five times a week.

The new clinic brings together physicians and nurses who specialize in kidney disease, as well as nutritionists and others who can help patients maintain a quality of life as possible in such an impactful state.

"When people progress to the degree of need for dialysis, the quality of life really goes down dramatically," says Dr. Mark Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. He said chronic kidney disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the country, affecting 37 million people in the United States.

The dialysis machine cleanses Zach Thomas' blood at his home in Kamas on Sunday, September 8th. , 2019. Thomas has five, 2 1/2 hours of treatment a week at his house, not the three treatments he would receive at a dialysis clinic. Doing treatment at home allows him more freedom. (Colter Peterson, KSL)

"People can spend their whole lives – so it seems – at a dialysis center receiving hemodialysis," Harrison says. "It affects them emotionally, physically and affects their families."

To this end, Intermountain, he said, aims to increase access to treatment, especially before dialysis is required. The new center has the capacity to focus on prevention and early detection, even facilitating early transplantation if necessary – really "making the right amount at the right time" for each patient, Harrison said.

the least expensive and most holistic environment they can stay as good as they can, "is the most ideal, he said, adding that the new patient-centered approach" can lead to a mark-up over time. "

Harrison said if the model works for Intermediate Forest, Utah, Southern Nevada and Idaho, it could be useful elsewhere, nationwide, helping many people and their families suffer less.

Dr. Suzi Lee, an interventional nephrologist and medical director at the Intermountain Kidney Clinic, said 1 in 9 adults suffer from chronic kidney disease, which will only increase as the population progresses.


To me, that means freedom.

– Zaha Thomas


Available treatment options, including early detection using artificial intelligence, she said, can help reach patients who are feeling lost or out of control. because of certain social determinants and other barriers they may face.

Thomas was diagnosed in December 2017 and at that time still had more than 90% of his renal function intact. This changed quickly as the collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which eventually shrunk his kidneys into oblivion, reduced his function to less than 7%.

He tried various available drugs to prevent kidney failure, but they did not work for him and he became weak.

Dialysis gives him the energy to play with his son, as well as to maintain his normal employment as a bartender.

"It saves so much travel time and I happen to experience it in a much more comfortable environment.

" For me, that means freedom. "

He never thought he could die of his illness, but Thomas said he was grateful to be able to manage it so comfortably.

Unless preventable through diet and other interventions, Lee said, kidney disease, thankfully, is treatable.

Dialysis is essentially a filtering treatment to maintain balance in the body by eliminating waste, salt and additional water that would otherwise accumulate the body.

T technology that allows dialysis to be performed at home is about half of the typical hemodialysis machine and is gentler on the body. This requires more frequent treatment, but the sessions are shorter and reduce the annoying side effects that many people experience, according to NxStage, which created the home therapy system.

Dialysis at home usually leads to more energy for the patient and less stress for the patient's heart, since it filters more fluid from the blood more often. The company claims that patients using the NxStage system also have better blood pressure control and need less medication. There are also fewer psychological side effects and an increased chance of transplantation due to more frequent dialysis treatments.

The average waiting period for a kidney transplant from the National Donor Waiting List may be up to five years, depending on the patient's circumstances and organ availability, according to the American Kidney Foundation, a national, non-profit advocacy organization for patients with kidney disease.

Empowering patients with resources to take control of their own situation, Lee said, can lead to better outcomes and, she said, staying with the disease is crucial.

Wendy Leonard

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