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Hemodialysis

What is hemodialysis?

When kidneys fail, your body may have problems filtering your blood and remaining chemically balanced. Dialysis cleans the body of unwanted toxins, waste products and excess fluids, and can take the place of some kidney function.

Dialysis treatment takes hours not minutes, and can be stressful. At Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH), we have designed comfort and safety into our state-of-the-art hemodialysis treatment area, to help you relax during your treatment.

Treatments, services and procedures

With the help of your hemodialysis team, you will be given the choice of dialysis at home or at our facilities.

Hemodialysis 

Dialysis takes place at our clinics, and uses a machine and a special filter to remove excess fluid and toxins (wastes) from your blood. Your blood is effectively cleaned through the dialysis machine and pumped back into your body. Your nephrologist will walk you through the process and help you decide if this treatment type is most suitable for you.

Home peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is performed at home by you, either manually or by using a machine supplied by JHAH. Peritoneal dialysis works by using the blood vessels in the lining of your abdomen to filter wastes, chemicals and extra fluids from the blood. A sterile fluid called dialysate is inserted into the abdominal cavity, and its sugar helps draw out these wastes. For this treatment, your doctor will insert a small tube through your abdomen into the peritoneal cavity. Our specialists will help you choose the type of treatment best suited to your needs.

Pediatric dialysis

Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis treatments are also offered to children when they need it. Children’s needs are different from adults’, and our pediatric nephrologist will talk you through the treatment options. Together with your family, we will choose what works best for your child. 

Find out more about our pediatric care services

What to expect from dialysis

Our Nephrology Clinic is not a self-referral service. Your Primary Care physician will make a referral for you if they believe you need an expert to evaluate the condition of your kidneys. You will be invited to the clinic, usually two to four weeks after your referral from Primary Care.

When arranging an appointment, we will ensure that you see one of our expert consultants. Our experienced nephrology team will look after you every step of the way ­– from giving advice at your first consultation, through to offering ongoing support during and after your treatment. 

When you arrive at the Nephrology Clinic, you will be checked in. Within five minutes, a nurse will carry out an initial clinical screening. Wait times for your treatment are around 15-20 minutes, and your appointment will usually last around 20 to 30 minutes.

In order to avoid delays, please note the following:

  • All medications should be brought for review by your nephrologist/nurse
  • A significant portion of each visit will be dedicated to education. It is important that primary caregivers attend

Depending on your condition, you may need to take part in further imaging procedures and/or laboratory tests. All procedures and any follow-up appointments can be arranged by the hemodialysis team/scheduler at the front desk. If you have further diagnostic and/or intervention procedures, our nursing staff will explain how to prepare, and answer any questions about your next steps. 

Find out more about our nephrology services

 

We recommend that you eat prior to your treatment. You will be weighed to assess how much fluid should be removed, and one of our nurses will assess your condition before treatment.

You will have a vascular access prepared by a clinician before you come for treatment. This will enable us to connect you to the dialysis machine and more efficiently filter and clean your blood. During your treatment, or just after, you will be served a snack that is based on your dietary needs as prescribed by your physician. While on dialysis, you may be able to read, sleep, eat, watch television, or talk to fellow patients and members of our dialysis team.

Once the dialysis treatment is finished, you will be disconnected from the machine. You will be weighed again after treatment to make sure excess fluid has been removed from your body. About 30 minutes is required at the end of each treatment to ensure you are well and medically stable before you go home.

You will be assessed by your nephrologist, and a dialysis treatment plan will be tailored according to your specific needs. Usually, you will have hemodialysis three times a week, but your nephrologist will discuss your health needs and create a personalized plan.

It is important to attend all treatments in order to stay healthy. If you cannot attend dialysis, you need to call the dialysis center immediately and seek guidance.

To help you control your diet during treatment, our renal dietician will talk to you about what you should eat. It is important to follow these guidelines in order to avoid toxins building up in your body. Your fluid intake also needs to be controlled to avoid fluid levels rising. A diet plan will be tailored to meet your needs.

Starting dialysis can cause different reactions and feelings. Always discuss your care with your nurse/doctor, social worker and family members – we are always happy to answer any questions.

You should be able to enjoy your usual activities, but may need to consider ways to adapt to a different lifestyle. We have many educational resources to help you adjust to hemodialysis, and our team of experts will also be on hand to help.

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