Topeka (WIBW) - Alonda Udell remembers how tired and just plain "blah" she felt when she started dialysis five years ago.
Matthew Asher can relate. He says, for his first two months on dialysis, he was sick all the time and thought it was no way to live.
Luckily for both of them, there was another option. Dr. Scott Solcher at Kansas Dialysis suggested they move away from dialysis appointments at the center, and do it at home.
When a person's kidneys fail, dialysis is a procedure where machines will do the work of ridding the body of toxins that the kidneys normally would do. Dr. Solcher says people are designed to have kidney function 24/7. With dialysis at a center, a person essently only has kidney function for four hours, three days a week. He says that can be a shock to the system, which impacts the blood pressure and often makes a person feel fatigued. In addition, because so many toxins are coming out of the body in such a short time, it can be tough on the body and people may experience other side effects.
With home dialysis, Dr. Solcher says, the dialysis can be done more frequently and for shorter periods of time. It's gentler on the body and toxins are flushed from the system more regularly.
Changes in Medicare set to take effect in the new year could steer more people toward home dialysis. Dr. Solcher says Medicare will put new emphasis on the home option, which could encourage more centers to offer it to their patients. He says it financially makes sense for Medicare since people tend to do better and require less hospitalization. Plus, home machines are now much more efficient.
Dr. Solcher does caution that not everyone will be a good candidate for home dialysis and a doctor can make that evaluation.
Both Alonda and Matt have switched to home dialysis. Both say they feel better physically and enjoy the convenience of having family, friends and comforts of home close at hand.
Dr. Solcher and Kansas Dialysis CEO Stan Langhofer are doing their second annual 100-mile ride to raise money for their patient assistance fund. It is October 8th. People who would like to make a pledge should call 785-234-2277. Donations also may be sent to the Stormont-Vail Foundation, 1500 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, KS 66604.