Feature Story

Closing the Gap in Access to Home Dialysis Services for African Americans

PD Patient Shows How Home Therapy Gets Her Back to Her Life, both at Home and on the Road

Karmen Law and family

A wife of a traveling jazz musician, mother of four grown children and grandmother to two, Karmen Laws knew she needed a flexible option to treat her end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) offered her a resolve, allowing her to perform dialysis ten hours at night while she sleeps. She thinks of it as another step in her nightly routine “just like brushing my teeth or washing my face,” Karmen noted. Many patients in the U.S. who perform therapy at home use a machine called a cycler – such as Baxter’s Amia Automated Peritoneal Dialysis System with Sharesource telehealth platform – that infuse and drain solution automatically.

Karmen has a family history of diabetes and kidney failure, and received her own diabetes diagnosis in 2011. Diabetes and a family history are both risk factors for kidney disease. As an African American, Karmen is also three times more likely to develop kidney disease compared to Caucasians, and some studies have shown that people of color are less likely to receive balanced education about their increased risk.1

“If I only knew then what I know now regarding the impact of my choices on my kidneys, I might have made different decisions in the past,” Karmen said. “However, doing my dialysis at home while I sleep allows me to spend the same amount of time with my family, whether at home or on the road, as I was before the diagnosis, and I am forever thankful for that.”

Karmen continues to integrate healthy lifestyle choices into her daily activities, such as proper nutrition and exercise, and advocates for others to do the same to help them prevent kidney disease. Eating more green vegetables and leaner meats, Karmen remarked, has also become commonplace in their household.

As part of its commitment to eliminating health disparities, in collaboration with the NAACP and the Alliance for Home Dialysis, Baxter is working to increase African American’s awareness of kidney disease prevention and access to home dialysis services. Two town hall meetings about disparities in kidney disease will be held in Jackson, Miss. (March 25) and Chicago (April 29). Reserve your seat today.

Today, more than 678,000 Americans are living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and an estimated 14.8% of people have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and are at risk of kidney failure2.


End Stage Renal Disease infographic

1http://www.kidney.irg/africanamericanhealth/kidney_disease_undetected
2http://usrds.org/2016/view/v1_01.aspx
3http://usrd.org/2016/view/v2_01.aspx
4http://www.kindey.org/africanamericanhealth/kidney_disease_undetected
5Dialysis Heat Maps, Distribution of Patients on PD and HHD by Race and State, Moran Company Report, 2014
6Dialysis Heat Maps, Distribution of Patients on PD and HHD by Race and State, Moran Company Report, 2014
7http://kidney.org/africanamericanhealth/kidney_disease_undetected