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Like most people that are either on dialysis or know they will be at some point, I'm watching the progress of the various artificial kidney projects with a lot of interest. Many of you are already aware of them, but the big players right now are:
The Kidney Project with the implantable bio-artificial kidney and the Wearable Artificial Kidney project which focuses on a device you can wear so you can dialyze on the go and not be strapped to an immobile dialysis machine. Neither is a cure for CKD but falls under the category of a dialysis replacement. Either would be a much better option for people who either aren't candidates for a kidney transplant or those who are facing a long wait on the transplant list (for instance, those with type O blood types and no living donor options).
So when and if either of these products hit the market, it's going to be a historic day for the kidney health community. With that in mind could there possibly be some long term damage that could come from such advances?
I'm not speaking in terms of side-effects which will likely come about, but more in terms of the habits of patients. Right now people on dialysis need to take incredible care of their health in terms of diet and weight management in order to minimize the chances of their health taking a turn for the worse in other ways (heart disease, cancer, etc). Kidney disease brings a great risk of developing other ailments (a large percentage of kidney disease deaths are actually
from heart disease).
On top of that, in order to remain a viable candidate for transplant while you are on the list, you need to keep your health in check.
Is it possible that being freed from dialysis could over time lead to a false sense of security? Without the big dialysis machine staring us in the face every few days, could we over time become lazy when it comes to taking the necessary care of ourselves?
I think these are things that we may not think of right now because the treatments aren't there yet, but hopefully the medical community will address this when the time comes. While in terms of treatment, nothing tops a transplant - or better yet prevention - the freedom from todays dialysis machines will be a huge step towards better survival rates and a much improved quality of life.
But what the kidney community needs is a negative Nancy like me bringing these possibilies to the surface. Your welcome ;-)