>>> Hemodialysis

Kelsey Pequinot

"The Artificial Kidney"

Hemodialysis acts as an artificial kidney.

Kidneys + Hemodialysis=removes waste & fluid from your blood.

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The Process of Hemodialysis: What to Expect!

The kidneys keep us alive because they get rid of toxic waste and extra fluid in our blood. We end up urinating the toxins out of our body. When the kidneys stop working, there is no way to get rid of the toxins, which makes our bodies sick.

Hemodialysis is a way to get rid of the toxins without urinating them out, by filtering the blood artificially. This is through the dialyzer pictured above. Here is a step by step explanation of what to expect when you go to dialysis treatment.

Step #1

When you arrive at your dialysis center, the nurse will check and record your weight, blood pressure, pulse and temperature. This will give the health care team at good look at where you are at before the dialysis.

Step #2

Then you will sit at your chair and the nurse will clean your fistula. This is pictured below and is the access point for the IV tubing (the point where blood leaves for cleansing and then re-enters your body during treatment). She will clean the fistula with betadine (helps reduce bacteria that potentially can cause skin infection) to make sure no bacteria gets into your body.

The nurse may put lidocaine where the needles will be inserted to decrease pain. The two needles (picture 2) will be put into the fistula and the IV tubes will be connected to your arm. The nurse will tape the tubes to your arm so they stay in place.

Step #3

Then the nurse will put a medication called Heparin (picture 3) into the tube. Heparin is given to thin your blood and prevent clots from forming during the process. Then your blood will begin filtering. The picture above shows how blood come out of your body, goes through the tube is dialyzed (filtered) and put back into your body.

How long will it take?

Most people go to a dialysis clinic around 3 days a week. The process could take 3-5 hours.

Maddie's Lifestyle

Here is the story of girl named Maddie. Her kidneys stopped working at age 16 and has been on dialysis ever since. She doesn't let her disease stop her from doing anything!
Renal dialysis - coping with kidney failure.avi

What YOU Can Do: Safety Tips

  • Hand wash very often.
  • Make sure your doctors and nurses are washing their hands as well.
  • Do not lift or carry anything heavy on the arm with the fistula.
  • Do not sleep on the side with the fistula.
  • Wear loose clothing around fistula, try not to put pressure on it.
  • Self check the fistula daily: call your doctor if you see any redness, bleeding, swelling, drainage, heat or pain.
  • Check fistula for a vibration (thrill), daily.

Foods You Should Eat

Foods You Should NOT Eat

Blog: Jack's Kidney Adventure

This is a blog of a man named Jack Nowicki, who is on dialysis. He writes about his experiences of adjusting to his new life.
Pen Pals Wanted

Click here to exchange e-mail messages with other people who are going through hemodialysis as well. Share your experience, laugh & make jokes, and ask questions and get advice!


  • What should I bring to treatment? Answer: ID and personal items (glasses etc), comfortable clothing (nurses need to be able to access your fistula. Wear washable and loose clothes. Many get chilled so you can bring a blanket as well), food (can have a light snack during your dialysis), activities (bring an Ipad, book, pillow to sleep on, something to pass the time.
  • How will I feel after dialysis? Answer: Most patients feel tired for a few hours after hemodialysis. Notify the dialysis unit if you experiences dizziness, light-headedness or low blood pressure.
  • Do I have to quit my job or education? Answer: Depending on the type of work you do and the type of dialysis you choose, you may need to take some time off work or reshuffle your routine when you first start dialysis.
  • How many Americans have kidney disease? Answer: Kidney disease has been estimated to affect nearly 26 million Americans.
  • What causes kidney failure? Answer: There are several conditions that can lead to kidney disease, but the leading two causes are hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
  • How long does a transplanted kidney work? Answer: On average, a kidney transplant lasts between eight and 15 years. But some transplants last only a few weeks and some last 20 years.

References & Other Links

CDC. (2016). Patient Safety. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/dialysis/patient/

Kidney Transplant Dialysis Association. (2014, September 29). Bulletin Board and Pen Pals. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://www.ktda.org/bulletin-board-and-pen-pals

Laurence. (2012). Renal dialysis - coping with kidney failure.avi. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQzqGHKkdE8

MFMER. (2016). Slide show: A step-by-step look at hemodialysis. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://www.riversideonline.com/health_reference/Bladder-Kidney/DA00084.cfm

Northwest Kidney Centers. (2016). Dialysis. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://www.nwkidney.org/living-with-kidney-disease/get-started/dialysis/

Nowicki, J. (2016, March 9). Jack's Kidney Adventure. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://jakidney.blogspot.com/

Ohio State Medical Center. (2010, September 1). Blood Tests for Dialysis. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/bloodtst.pdf

VCU Medical Center. (2004). A Guide to Eating Healthier for Hemodialysis Patients. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from https://www.vcuhealth.org/transplant/docs/renal_diet.pdf