New home dialysis machines make life easier for patients

Mendel Schnitzer
Mendel Schnitzer
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Video: Experiencing the future of home hemodialysis

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Manitoba Renal Program dialysis patients will be able to have treatment at home thanks to an innovative home hemodialysis machine being introduced in the province.

The new system is more user friendly, requires minimal home renovations and can be moved around a patient's home or moved to a different location. It also requires fewer supplies and consumes significantly less water than the only system previously used.

Patient Mendel Schnitzer says the new machines make a huge difference.

In past years, Schnitzer used to drive back to Winnipeg from his cottage near Kenora every second day to have dialysis treatment at home. This past summer he was able to take the new system out to the cottage.
"It's a lot better for the patient," says Schnitzer. His set up time is less than half of what he previously took and he says cleaning and operating the machine are much easier. "It's virtually impossible to make a mistake."

Darren Turner has been on home hemodialysis for three years and also started trialling the new machine last year.

"It was very easy to learn. It's about one tenth as complicated," he says, comparing the new machine to the one he previously used. "In my opinion it opens up a whole new world for people who aren't technically capable of running [the previous machine] by themselves."

Manitoba and British Columbia are the first provinces to complete trials and evaluations of the machine and plans are underway for more patients to be trained on the machine, says Dr. Paul Komenda, Medical Director of Seven Oaks General Hospital's Home Hemodialysis Program.

"This gives us an opportunity to get patients on home therapies that maybe couldn't before," he says. "We are getting them back home and out of the hospital."

For those who had space restrictions, issues with water sources or inadequate septic systems, the new system might be a better fit. Training also takes about half the amount of time than training for the previously used system.

"While we are still using all of the systems we have always used, we are excited to add this new system and offer more options for patients so they can have what best suits their lifestyle and their health needs," explains Komenda.

Increasing the use of home dialysis in the province also helps address Manitoba's increasing need for dialysis services which require significant hospital resources when done in-centre.

For each patient who uses home dialysis instead of in-centre dialysis, the renal program may save between $20,000 and $90,000 per year. Home hemodialysis patients are also reimbursed for utility costs through a new Home Hemodialysis Utility Reimbursement Program funded by the Province.

Over the last two years the renal program patient population increased by over 700 people from 5,864 patients in July 2013 to 6,574 in July 2015. Currently, there are 61 people using home hemodialysis equipment, but it is hoped that number will double to 120 by 2018, or roughly eight percent of the dialysis population, thanks to the new equipment.

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