Dialysis and transplantation

Once a patient has been diagnosed with kidney disease they have two options; a kidney transplant or dialysis.

Below you can read about the different types of dialysis available and the advantages of each, as well as gain further understanding of what it means to have a kidney transplant.

What is dialysis?

In a very small number of patients, their diabetic kidney disease may gradually get worse until their kidneys stop working altogether. One of the treatments for this is dialysis. When your kidneys no longer work, excess water and toxins build up in your body. This can make you feel breathless and unwell. Dialysis uses a machine to replace the role of the kidneys. It removes water and toxins and can be used to give extra medication. There are two main types:


This uses a machine to clean the bloodstream through a line or a fistula. A fistula is created by a small operation in the arm, which connects an artery and a vein, making an access point to connect a patient to the blood cleaning machine. Each session of haemodialysis takes around 3.5 hours and happens three times a week - usually at an outpatient dialysis centre or hospital.

Peritoneal dialysis

This uses the inner lining of the tummy as a filter. A tube is place into the tummy; this is used to connect to a machine which washes treatment fluid in and out. Toxins and water move across the tummy lining into the fluid so they can be drained out. Each session takes around 8 hours and happens overnight - at home.

What is kidney transplantation?

A kidney transplant is an operation where a new kidney is plumbed into the body to replace the work of the existing damaged ones. Usually just one new kidney is needed. The person giving the new kidney can be living or deceased (via the deceased donor register). The operation is long and can be complicated so before going ahead, it is important to make sure that the person receiving the kidney is well enough to go through that challenge. Following the operation, the person will need to take lifelong medication to keep the new kidney healthy.


Dialysis treatment - what's right for me?

In this video a group of patients from the Barts Health Renal department talk us through the various different types of dialysis and the benefits of each.

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