Waiting for a transplant

An insight into what life is like on dialysis...
14 February 2022

Interview with 



A patient lying in a hospital bed.


Dialysis is a treatment to support people waitlisted for kidney transplants. Adam Murphy and Chris Smith speak with Joel, a person currently on dialysis, on what life is like...

Joel - The particular condition I have is called IGA nephropathy. For many people, it just something that needs to be monitored and never really interrupts their lives. I basically then got unlucky a few years later, much more recently, in that it was causing my kidneys to completely fail. And I guess that was the point for which, for me, was quite hard. There were some tears shed. I guess it's difficult, but at the end of the day, it's just what it is, you have no choice but to face it, you know?

Adam - For those who require it, dialysis like this can take over their life.

Joel - It certainly puts pressure on all aspects of your life. For those of us who are working in particular, you're actually almost robbed of decades of life potentially, because dialysis can't replace the full function of a kidney. And there's all sorts of other complications, like you have weaker bones, so we tend to get fractures more easily, we have dietary restrictions that are real pain.I personally don't have, but I probably will at some point in the future, but many dialysis patients have fluid restrictions.

Chris S - Now in Joel's case, he is currently using what is called peritoneal dialysis, where a cleansing fluid is pumped into the abdominal cavity to soak up the waste material from the bloodstream that the kidneys would normally remove. This is later on drained away and replaced with fresh fluid. Patients usually do this at home, but repeating the process several times a day is very inconvenient and it takes a lot of time.

Joel - That's my mental tray, got my other items - clamps, my caps, and my shields. And I'm also going to need the actual bag of fluid, the lysate. I've been warming this up for the past few hours because it's mid-February and if you put cold fluid into your abdomen, it hurts like hell. So the bag itself - I'll describe it for you - it's basically a bag of fluid attached to a tube and that tube is going to connect to the end of my catheter, which comes out of my abdomen. And I need to drain myself out - and taking with it all of the bad stuff, the urea, and potassium, and various other toxins. This is where we just wait. So I'm nearly completely drained out. I am paying attention because I get something called 'drain pain', which is where if it drains out completely, I get a sharp pain and I can avoid it if I'm really careful and shut it off just before it comes.

Adam - A glimpse there into the laborious and very delicate dialysis Joel has to carry out repetitively whilst on the waiting list.

Joel - I hopefully will at some point in the next year or two receive a kidney transplant from a human, in this case, and that it will be transformative.


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