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LIVING WITH KIDNEY DISEASE

By JR Ortega
Oct. 8, 2010 at 5:08 a.m.
Updated Oct. 13, 2010 at 5:13 a.m.

Watching TV on a long bank of screens mounted above the nurse's station, Joshlyn Thomas undergoes the long dialysis session. She also naps during the session.

LEARN MOREWHAT: Liberty Dialysis - Victoria

WHERE: 2806 North Navarro St.

CONTACT: 361-485-1148

WHAT: DaVita Dialysis Center

WHERE: 1405 Victoria Station Drive

CONTACT: 361-576-9919

KIDNEY DISEASE FACTSAbout 20 million American have kidney disease.

Each year, kidney disease kills more than 80,000 people, making it the ninth leading cause of death in America.

Diabetes and hypertension are the No. 1 and No. 2 causes of kidney disease.

Dialysis is not a cure for kidney disease. The life-saving, blood-filtering can be expensive and comes with severe dietary and lifestyle restrictions.

Many federal health insurance plans, such as Medicare, cover about 80 percent of the cost of dialysis.

If someone does not get dialysis, they can die within days because of the toxin build-ups in the blood.

*Source, National Institutes of Health and National Kidney Foundation

Joshlyn Thomas reclines back, stuffs an earphone into her right ear and waits for her daytime soap operas to begin.

The 52-year-old's routine is familiar - she has been doing it for the last three years not from the comfort of her home but from a bed at a dialysis center.

Most recently, she has moved to Liberty Dialysis, the newest center in Victoria.

In Victoria, there are more than 200 people on dialysis and about 6,500 people who have or may be unaware they may have chronic kidney disease, one of the leading reasons for dialysis treatment, said Dr. Faisal Khan, the nephrologist who runs the new center.

"They really care around here about the person," Thomas said. "This isn't just dialysis."

KIDNEY DISEASE

The monotonous, soft sound of a swishing machine comes in intervals as Thomas dozes off.

Because Thomas' kidneys no longer function, dialysis is necessary to clean out her blood three times a week.

A woman two stations down is also undergoing treatment.

The two are part of the 26 million American adults who have chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Twenty million people are at risk for the disease.

The room has 17 stations.

The center is just starting out and will be fully operational in October, Khan said.

He expects the facility to be filled.

"The prevalence in this area is high because of high blood pressure and diabetes," he said. "With time, there are more dialysis units that would be needed in this area."

DaVita Dialysis Center of Victoria has been the only center in Victoria since 1998, said Laura Waters, the DaVita regional director.

The dialysis company has 1,700 locations across the U.S., she added.

The center has 31 dialysis stations, and training for at-home dialysis and nocturnal dialysis.

To help meet the growing demand for dialysis, DaVita is already planning to add another center to Victoria but Waters is not sure of the specifics.

"I've been in the market for a while, and we have experienced a phenomenal growth over the course of the last three years," she said.

With a new center now open, Khan hopes to help alleviate that need and give patients an option of where they chose to get care, he said.

But more importantly there is the need for education prevention, he said.

PREVENTION THROUGH EDUCATION

Thomas can still remember the first time she went on dialysis.

The three to four hours of dialysis was almost unbearable.

She felt nauseated, weak and the sister and daughter she lives with were being affected.

Separate meals were planned because of Thomas' strict diet, which is constantly changing.

"When I first started dialysis I was very afraid," she said. "I'm more adjusted now."

Thomas has no other options but dialysis.

Diabetes, Sarcoidosis, which is the swelling of organs, and chronic kidney disease have all affected her body in such a way that even if she wanted a transplant, it would not be possible.

Despite Thomas' adjustment to dialysis, the real success to the new center would be to see less people in there, Khan said.

Khan, who is the fourth nephrologist in Victoria, has been in the city for less than a year and plans to take the helm with preventive education.

"We have a lot of Hispanics, Asians and African American population in which kidney disease prevalence in those groups is extremely high," Khan said. "Those are the main target population we need to focus on."

Aside from participating in local health fairs to help get the word out on kidney disease, Khan is interested in bringing the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Early Evaluation Program to Victoria, he said.

Kahn is talking with the foundation.

The program is a free screening program that helps raise awareness about kidney disease through providing free testing and educational information

If the program comes to Victoria it will be run by Victoria nephrologists and volunteers.

"Education does play a role," Khan said.

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