Feature Story

World Kidney Day Focuses on Transplantation - The Important Role Dialysis Can Play in Treatment Success

Meet People from Around the World Who Have Received Transplanted Kidneys Following Dialysis Therapy

March 8 is World Kidney Day, and the theme for 2012 is kidney transplantation, a procedure that can help patients return to a near-normal state of health.  But in a world where there is still a significant shortage of donor organs, patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) often undergo many years of successful dialysis therapy while they await a healthy kidney match.

Chronic kidney disease is on the rise, caused in part by the mounting levels of hypertension and diabetes around the world.  The world population is getting older, and aging is a strong risk factor for development of high blood pressure and diabetes.

If left untreated, chronic kidney disease can progress to irreversible advanced kidney failure that can only be treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant.  Because obtaining a transplant is often limited by the shortage of donor organs, dialysis is by far the most common route of treatment. 

Along with the global kidney disease community, Baxter, a leader in dialysis treatment for more than 50 years, urges those at risk of CKD to get screened.  Early detection can lead to treatment options that help to maintain the health of your kidneys and reduce the risk of developing irreversible kidney failure.

Role of Dialysis in the Treatment Continuum
Today, patients have several different choices available for dialysis treatment designed to meet their unique needs.  One of these options, peritoneal dialysis (PD) therapy, pioneered by Baxter, has been shown to offer numerous benefits to future kidney transplants recipients. 

In PD, dialysis solution is administered into the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity through a catheter in the patient's abdomen.  The peritoneal cavity is surrounded by a thin membrane (called the peritoneum), which serves as a filter through which waste and excess water are drawn into the solution.  The used solution is then drained from the abdomen and discarded.

A study published in February 2012 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that patients treated with peritoneal dialysis before transplantation had better survival rates than those treated in clinics via another dialysis option, hemodialysis.1

Hear from people around the world who have lived with kidney disease and received transplants following successful dialysis therapy.

Jim McFarlin (U.S.)
Jim McFarlin, 58, now refers to November 18, 2011, as his "second birthday."  It was the day the award-winning journalist, author and blogger received the incomparable gift of a kidney transplant in St. Louis, Mo.

"That was the day that changed my life forever," he beams.

Prior to the procedure, Jim was convinced the chances of ever receiving a transplant were slim.  A transplant is not a cure, he discovered, but can help return a patient to near-normal health if the organ adapts well to its new host.

After his 2008 diagnosis of kidney failure due to long-standing high blood pressure, the Champaign, Ill.-based writer found a local kidney specialist who recommended that Jim go on PD in order to preserve as much of his kidney function as possible.

Jim opted for automated peritoneal dialysis via Baxter's HomeChoice automated PD system, which enables solution to be infused and drained automatically by a device while the patient sleeps.  For two years, he fared well on the treatment and experienced no serious complications.  Jim was able to keep working full-time as a freelance writer.  In addition to work and family, he dedicated himself to spreading the word about kidney disease, writing a blog called "JK - Just Kidneying."

He was placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but with a severe shortage of donor organs, he knew it could be years before a transplant might be possible.

In June 2011, Jim finally heard a potential matching kidney was available.  He and his wife, Karen, made the three-hour trek from Champaign to St. Louis in record time.  He was prepped for surgery, and by the afternoon of his scheduled operation the following day, his hospital room was filled with well-wishers.

That is, until the surgical team informed him that at the last minute, his donor kidney had been re-routed to another hospital for a patient in critical condition.  After the false alarm, Jim was convinced this opportunity may never come again - or if it did, it would only lead to the same result.

The wait would soon be over.  In November of that same year, Barnes-Jewish Hospital found another potential match.  Jim and Karen started making their way back down to St. Louis, but this time were cautiously optimistic and kept the news to themselves.

This trip would have a much better outcome.

Upon arrival, Jim was wheeled into the operating room for a successful three-hour transplant procedure.  He spent five days in the hospital, then several weeks recuperating at home in bed as the incisions healed and his body adjusted to the new kidney.

Today, Jim's life has changed in dramatic and positive ways. 

"I know the transplant never could have happened if so many factors hadn't fallen into place," he says.

Christian Urban (Europe)
Christian Urban, 60, from Brussels, Belgium, has always led an active life.  He has worked as a manager at a large international company, traveled and played tennis competitively.  When he started to feel run-down and worried he couldn't maintain his energetic pace, he sought medical advice.  Christian was shocked to learn via a blood test that he had CKD. 

Aware that he had some time before dialysis would became necessary, Christian was able to come to terms with the fact that he would, one day, become a dialysis patient.  But he worried he would not be able to continue his busy schedule and didn't want his treatment to control his life.

Most patients go to a dialysis clinic at least three times a week for four or more hours each treatment (not including travel time) until a donor kidney becomes available.

But Christian didn't want to spend hours every week at a dialysis clinic, and he didn't want to feel or look like a patient.  He discovered there was another option to dialyze in the home with little interruption to his daily routine. 

When his nephrologist told him in 1996 that he would have to start dialysis, Christian was disheartened.  However, he already had decided that administering PD during the night would be the best option for him. 

Christian says he felt so good after the first day he started dialysis with APD, he continued working, playing tennis and traveling as much as he could in his spare time. 

Christian responded well to PD with no infections during his three years on treatment.  When his time came for a transplant, he was fit and healthy.

Christian's transplant procedure came 11 years ago, and he's still doing well.  He knows he will always have to manage his illness, but most important to him, he's been able to maintain his fast-paced lifestyle throughout his course of treatment. 

To this day, Christian still works full-time, now running his own consultancy business as well as lecturing at a local university.  He even perfected his tennis game and plays at the national level on the veteran team.

Yin Le (Asia-Pacific)
Yin Le, a 20-year-old former dialysis patient from Quzhou, in the Zhejiang province of China, received a new kidney in November 2011 - a surgery, in part, made possible with the help of PD.  Now, she is determined to live life like never before.

When the doctor called out Yin Le's name in the presence of a group of kidney disease patients and their families who were anxiously awaiting news of a successful kidney match, she and her father could not believe that their dream had finally come true.

"I was the youngest one to get a kidney that day," Yin Le recalls. 

When one of her friends visited her later that day before the surgery, she could not help hugging her friend and crying.  "I was so happy, but also a bit scared."

Yin Le was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2004 and started APD a few months later.  She used Baxter's HomeChoice automated PD system to remove the toxins from her body and help sustain her life.  She was able to return to school and spend time with her friends.

 "Thanks to PD, I was able to keep my health in good condition, making this kidney transplant surgery possible," Yin Le says.

Her transplantation surgery was a success.

"I used to feel uncomfortable here or there, but now all the pain and discomfort are gone, and I can eat and drink like a normal person again," she adds.  

Yin Le is grateful for the surgery and has decided to do all she can in the future to help patients with kidney disease - especially pediatric patients.

The transplant has also given Yin Le a new lease on life to pursue her interests.  She has learned to make and sell handmade embroidery items online and plans to go to school to learn how to start an online business.  In her free time, she loves reading books on psychology and practicing calligraphy.

"I feel very good now, and I can visit the doctor by myself," says Yin Le.  "I plan to learn as much as I can now."

Click here to view the Clínica de Salud Renal video >

Click here to view the Sarah Prichard video >

1Molnar MZ, Mehrotra R, Duong U, et al. Dialysis modality and outcomes in kidney transplant recipients. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Feb;7(2):332-41. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

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