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Texas — Thirty-six-year-old twin brothers, James and Gene of Dallas, share more than just a genetic code — they also share their nocturnal dialysis. Gene, an inveterate researcher, knew there had to be an alternative to the four-hour hemodialysis treatments that both he and his brother were doing.
“The four-hour treatments were really hard for me,” James said. “I’d done peritoneal dialysis for 10 years; then had a kidney transplant; and when that didn’t last, I started hemodialysis in February 2007. My brother, Gene, surfed the Internet to research different treatments and ran across DaVita’s in-center nocturnal dialysis program. He told me about it in August. By September, we were doing the nocturnal dialysis treatments three nights a week together.”
Both men have young, active families. And their kidney disease often stood in the way of being the types of husbands and fathers that they’d always planned to be. Before he was sick, James used to have the energy to coach Little League football. During conventional hemodialysis, the best he could do was lie on the couch and watch television. He longed to wrestle and play with his 7- and 13-year-old sons, enjoying the everyday things that parents do easily with their children. But hemodialysis treatments left him thoroughly drained, so exhausted in fact that he was unable to work.
“My son used to ask my wife, ‘Why does daddy look like a zombie?’” James recalls.
Gene’s experience on conventional four-hour hemodialysis was remarkably similar. A former recruiter who was used to a high-energy schedule of traveling, interviewing candidates and connecting with clients, says fitting in hemodialysis treatment three times a week was a challenge.
“I tried to go directly from dialysis treatment back to work, and I just couldn’t do it,” Gene says. “I just wasn’t strong enough to go to work at all. And, unfortunately, doing conventional hemodialysis and being sick for so long made an impact on my work history.”
Even worse was the feeling of disappointing his family.
“It really hurts when you’re too sick to participate in activities, whether it’s a birthday or a big event,” says Gene.
Now all of that has changed for Gene thanks to the nocturnal dialysis treatments.
“I take my 7-year-old son to the gym and run up and down the basketball court,” smiles Gene. “I couldn’t do that for the past year. I’ve also started working out again, exercising and lifting weights. And I have the energy and stamina to pursue new job opportunities.”
James’ experiences with nocturnal dialysis are just as positive. Like his brother, he’s also looking into employment opportunities, possibly working part time with the local school district so he can coach again. And the twins, who live at opposite ends of Dallas, have found an added, unexpected benefit of their treatment: the ability to spend more time together.
“When my brother was telling me about all of the benefits of nocturnal dialysis, the only thing I was expecting was being able to talk with him more frequently. I didn’t imagine that I could be on dialysis and feel the way I do,” James says. “Unless you asked us if we were on dialysis, you would never know we were sick. I tell the nurses that there shouldn’t be any other dialysis options for patients than nocturnal dialysis.”
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