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What is kidney dialysis?

What is kidney dialysis?
Alana from Kent (Age 5-14)

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One Response

  1. Kidney dialysis is a way of helping people survive when their kidney aren’t working. This may be a temporary problem or a permanent one. Kidney failure is quite a common problem and it can be a fatal one without medical help.

    The kidneys – most people have two – are really complicated organs and they do a whole load of different things to keep you fit, ranging from keeping an eye on your bones to helping to regulating blood pressure. But one of the most important functions of the kidneys is helping to get rid of toxic or waste chemicals from your bloodstream. If the kidneys can’t help you detox then you get very sick indeed.

    The most common form of dialysis for people with long term kidney failure uses an “artificial” kidney. Blood is tapped from an artery, usually in the arm, and pumped through the dialysis machine. Here the waste chemicals in the bloodstream dissolve out of the blood and are carried away by the machine so that the blood that goes back into the patient is much cleaner. This can be done over many months but it is time consuming and means that people who need dialysis need to go regularly to a local dialysis unit. An alternative to dialysis form many patients is to have a kidney transplant. This frees the person up so they don’t have to go to the dialysis centre. And a transplanted kidney does a lot of other crucial biological jobs that medical dialysis can’t imitate.

    People on renal dialysis need a lot of support from scientists and doctors at their local pathology laboratories. The labs keep an eye on levels of chemicals – good and bad – in the blood as well as making sure that kidney failure patients don’t get anaemia or other related problems.

    The Royal College of Pathologists is holding an event entitled, Sex Drugs and Alcohol during National Science and Engineering Week. Our first National Pathology Week (3 – 9 November 2008) is taking place this year. See http://www.rcpath.org/index.asp?PageID=1526 for more details.

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