Dialysis: Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

Sophia Lottmann, Staff Writer

I’m going to share my story about why it is extremely important to take care of your health. Kidney disease has affected my family. My grandma started out with being a diabetic many years ago; she didn’t think that she would ever become a dialysis patient. Each week my Grandma spends 12 to 20 hours at the dialysis center. After each treatment she is extremely tired and drained. There is a lot of pain involved in dialysis and unfortunately it can’t be cured all the time.


Dialysis is the process of removing water, solutes and toxins from the blood of people with compromised kidney function. Dialysis can be used as a temporary treatment for a temporary kidney injury or for those waiting for a kidney transplant and as a permanent treatment in those that a transplant is not indicated or not possible.


In 2021, one in seven people-15 percent of the US adults or 37 million people-are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease, according to the CDC.  


Dr. DeSimone, MD came to the U.S. from Italy at 22 years old to practice medicine.  He practiced in the U.S. for 14 years before opening his practice 19 years ago specializing in Nephrology. 


“Nephrology is all about chemistry, numbers and dynamics,” DeSimone said. “ “In the past 10 years it has increased by approximately 200,000 people.”


“The number-one cause of kidney failure is diabetes and the second one is high blood pressure,” DeSimone said. “Those are 95 percent of kidney failures.” 


But it is really 95 percent Diabetes with or without high blood pressure,”  Joan D’Alessandro, a dialysis patient, said. “Diabetes is what caused me to become a dialysis patient. What I would tell a borderline diabetic is, take care of your health because dialysis is no joke.” 


DeSimone noted that to avoid needing dialysis, one can make healthy lifestyle choices, manage their diet and take care of their health. 


“If I knew what dialysis was going to be like I would have definitely made a stronger effort in changing my eating habits,” D’Alessandro said.  


 If you can find a little extra time for activities and exercise this is another great way to prevent yourself from becoming a diabetic, which can eventually lead to dialysis. 


Dialysis can affect families in many different ways. 


“I have seen family members change their work schedule to give their family members a ride or have their loved ones move in with them,” Christa Adduchio, a clinical social worker who works at Woodbridge Davita Dialysis center, said. “I have seen people open up in such a huge way and step up to the plate.” 


My family fully supports my grandma. She lives with us and we take her to and from her treatments three to four times a week. 


People’s mental state when they have to go on dialysis is very challenging. 


“People are resistant to dialysis in the beginning because they ask why this has happened to me or what did I do to deserve this,” Adduchio said. 


She also mentioned that as time goes on with the proper support their thoughts change or others feel tired and sick and just don’t want to comply with their treatment plan. 


My family tries to stay positive and very supportive to keep my grandma from being discouraged. My grandma and I are always laughing and joking, and seeing the smile on her face is important to me.  


There are so many different resources available to people and their families, including Kidney Smart, a resource that Davita offers.


“One of the best resources is the team and the clinic and the Interdisciplinary team which consists of your clinical social worker, dietitian, charge nurse, patient’s doctor and the patient,” Adduchio said. 


These resources offer education for people who might need dialysis in the future.  As for a cure for kidney disease, ”They are working on making dialysis easier and working on having an artificial kidney and having a dialysis machine inside of us,” DeSimone said. 


“It is really difficult to reverse this disease but what I’m really thinking is going to happen is that we are going to be able to build a kidney from or own stem cells which is yet another amazing field,” Adduchio said.


Starting dialysis is a very serious, life-changing event and people should try their hardest to make the best lifestyle choice possible.