ZocdocAnswersHow long can someone live while they are getting dialysis treatments?

Question

How long can someone live while they are getting dialysis treatments?

My grandmother is now on dialysis. Can you stay on dialysis for a long period of time, like for the rest of your life? I'm worried about her and don't want her to die but I know that the treatments are hard on her. Will she be okay?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that your grandmother is requiring dialysis. As you know, dialysis is used when the kidney stop working. Since the kidneys work to clean the blood of toxic chemicals, if they are not working these toxins accumulate and need to be removed using dialysis. Dialysis prolongs the life of those who have kidney failure. However, it is important to realize that the life expectancy of people who are on dialysis is much less than people who are not on dialysis. In part, this is because dialysis is only done in people who are very sick. At the same time, however, dialysis has a whole series of its own risks and complications, including infections, and the risks of these increase with the length of time on dialysis. For most people, dialysis is a bridge to kidney transplant. While waiting for a kidney transplant, people are kept alive with dialysis. However, for some elderly or very sick people, kidney transplant may not be an option, and dialysis might be the only remaining alternative. If your grandmother has questions about what dialysis means for her, then she should sit down with the kidney doctor who is managing her dialysis treatments, who will be happy to answer her questions.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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