The end goal for patients receiving treatment for kidney disease is a transplant – if they’re eligible, Dr. Elizabeth Helms said Friday at the DaVita Durango Dialysis clinic in Bodo Industrial Park.
“Dialysis keeps patients alive,” Helms said. “But the best treatment is a transplant.”
However, the wait is long, five to six years, to receive a donated kidney from a dead person, Helms said. The best option is from a living person, a family member or friend who has the same blood type.
Severe vascular disease or heart or lung disease can make a person ineligible for a kidney transplant, Helms said. The potential recipient also must be cancer-free for at least five years.
Helms was at the clinic to check on patients receiving traditional dialysis and a young man doing his dialysis at home who makes only periodic visits to the clinic.
She is a partner with Dr. Mark Saddler and Dr. Darren Schmidt in Durango Nephrology Associates. They oversee dialysis at the Durango center and one in Cortez.
Dialysis generally starts when a person’s kidneys function at less than 10 percent, Helms said.
The No. 1 cause for needing dialysis is diabetes, with high blood pressure right behind, Helms said.
Hemodialysis, the standard procedure in which a patient is attached to a machine for several hours three times a week to cleanse the blood, wears a patient out because it doesn’t replicate the kidney, which does the job 24 hours a day, she said.
Peritoneal dialysis, which allows patients to do their own dialysis at home while they sleep, is more in synch with the way the body functions normally, she said.
“Peritoneal dialysis is growing in popularity,” Helms said. “We see about a dozen here.”