Tennessee– In his busy Memphis, Tennessee veterinary practice, Dr. John Faircloth’s days are full examining, treating and operating on cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, reptiles and any other type of animal that comes into the office. When an autoimmune disease destroyed the 60-year-old’s kidneys in 1998, Faircloth received a kidney transplant. This new kidney lasted eight years before Faircloth’s autoimmune disease recurred. He began dialysis at the DaVita Memphis East center three afternoons a week. The dialysis took over filtering his blood, doing the job his kidneys couldn’t.
For people with healthy kidneys, cleansing of the blood is a continuous process and toxins don’t build up to dangerous levels. Dialysis patients have malfunctioning or nonfunctioning kidneys and, even with dialysis three times a week, toxins accumulate in the blood between treatments and can cause a range of problems such as high blood pressure or fatigue.
“I went to the dialysis center every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for three or four hours,” recalls Faircloth. “It just knocks your free time in the head. I had to leave my practice early on Tuesday and use up my days off for the other days.” When Faircloth heard about DaVita’s new nocturnal dialysis program, he thought he’d give it a try to see if he could free up more of his daytime hours.
Faircloth has been on the nocturnal program for three weeks and he’s already seeing the benefits. Not just in the extra time he has, but in increased energy as well. “I recently got my first set of labs back and they’re improved because the dialysis time runs longer and slower,” he reports. “I’m less tired and less nauseated between treatments.”
With nocturnal dialysis, the procedure occurs overnight in the dialysis center using the same equipment used for daytime dialysis. Some patients, like Faircloth, sleep; others watch TV, read, listen to music or try to relax.
“Because nocturnal dialysis is done for a longer period of time – typically eight hours instead of four – the cleansing is more thorough, eliminating the muscle cramping and ‘washed out’ feeling that daytime patients often experience,” notes Dr. B.J. Kelley, Faircloth’s nephrologist, and medical director at DaVita’s Memphis East center.
Results show that nocturnal dialysis cleans the blood virtually as well as normally functioning kidneys. It can improve clearances and help people who are having trouble controlling their fluids have fewer complications. Additionally, patients can better control their phosphorous levels with longer dialysis, giving them greater flexibility in their diet. “Nocturnal dialysis is associated with better survival rates for patents since it’s not so taxing on the body,” Kelley says.
With his days now fully open, Faircloth continues to work a packed schedule, and on his days off, he goes fishing and is able to accomplish a range of things that were hard to fit in along with daytime dialysis. “Nocturnal has really improved the quality of my life,” he says. “I feel better, am able to sleep during treatment and – most important – I’m not quite as hurried during the day.”
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