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Medical Moment: Home kidney dialysis

In today's Medical Moment, the technology that's allowing patients to easily do dialysis...
In today's Medical Moment, the technology that's allowing patients to easily do dialysis without leaving home.(WNDU)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:54 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - After years of battling kidney disease, a new system is making a big difference for some patients.

In today’s Medical Moment, the technology that’s allowing patients to easily do dialysis without leaving home.

More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure, and 468,000 are on dialysis, a lifesaving, but time-consuming procedure that removes waste and excess water from the body.

For many, it means repeated trips to a center and hours hooked up to a machine.

But as Martie Salt reports, a newly FDA-approved home system is helping patients do dialysis themselves.

A headboard is just the latest do-it-yourself project for Tracey Amadi. Right now, she’s happy to stay at home, since she’s higher risk for COVID-19 complications.

This mother of three lost her husband more than a decade ago, and immediately after, learned she had life-threatening kidney disease. “I knew that my kidneys were going bad, but I didn’t know it got to that point,” Tracey said.

Tracey needed dialysis to do the work her kidneys could not.

“I never saw a machine. I never knew what to expect. So, as they were wheeling me into the room to do my first treatment, I just cried like a baby,” she said.

In 2013, Tracey’s oldest son donated a kidney as part of a transplant chain, and Tracey received a new kidney. But two years ago, that organ began to fail.

This time, Tracey had a new option. She is the first in the U.S. to use a new portable home-dialysis system called the Tablo. Patients are trained to use the machine, hooking themselves up through a connection in an arm vein called a fistula.

“The patient will then insert two needles into that fistula to get the blood to the machine so that it can remove excess water and clean the blood,” said Dr. Sunit Kabaria.

For Tracey, it eliminates several trips a week to the dialysis center. She calls the Tablo her lifeline.

“I named my machine Tammie. And Tammie with an ‘I-E’- not a ‘Y’. Without it, I wouldn’t be here,” Tracey said.

The Tablo has been used in hospital settings for years but received FDA approval for home use in March.

It’s covered by Medicare and most major health insurance companies.

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