When you’re a busy working mum with kidney failure, the last thing you have time for is dialysis in hospital three days a week.
Like it or not, if your kidneys aren’t doing their job of cleaning the toxins from your blood, you need dialysis to do it for them. There are only two alternatives: a transplant or death.
Lucy suffered from kidney disease for a decade before her kidneys deteriorated to a point where they stopped working and she needed to start dialysis. By then, the 36-year-old had an eight-year-old daughter, as well as a busy and very physically demanding job running a livery yard with her husband.
The haemodialysis she was having required her to spend three days a week in hospital and knocked her out on the days she was home. “For a mum, especially with young children, it’s not a nice position to be in because you’re completely taken away for three days,” Lucy tells This Is Medtech. “Haemodialysis is great for some people, but for a very active person, not being able to move for up to eight hours a day is extremely difficult,” she adds.
When doctors offered her another treatment option called peritoneal dialysis (PD), Lucy jumped at the chance. With PD, she was trained to treat herself using a special machine at home while she slept. Medical staff would monitor her remotely 24/7 and be alerted if any problems arose.
“When I started PD, there was a huge difference straight away,” she says. “I was right out of bed in the morning and straight to work. Before PD it took me an hour to get up and I had to take lots of breaks during the day.”
This not only allowed Lucy to get back to daily work life, but also family life. “I was able to get on with my job and had energy again. Also, I no longer missed picking up my daughter from school and putting her to bed at night.” It also meant that Lucy only had to go to the clinic once every three months.
Kidney disease affects over three million people in the UK, but around one-third may be undiagnosed. Although it can’t be reversed, early diagnosis and prompt treatment, as well as changes in diet and lifestyle, can sometimes help slow down or prevent any further damage. Left untreated, kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Lucy’s brother donated one of his kidneys last November, allowing her to have a successful transplant and stop having dialysis. Six months later, she’s doing well and is still grateful for the PD that gave her life back in more ways than one.
PD is just one example of how remote monitoring, also known as telehealth and eHealth, is dramatically changing the way in which patients are receiving health care ‒ giving them more flexibility and an opportunity to carry on with normal daily life to the greatest degree possible.