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Date of last update: 10/09/2017.

Forum Name: Renal Failure

Question: Dialysis and complete kidney shut down

 abbisnana - Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:09 pm

My mom has been on dialysis for about a year. She had to go to the Er the other night and she told the nurse that she has not been able to urinate at all that day. The nurse told us that her ability to urinate was the only thing keeping her alive with her dialysis. If this is true, how long does she have.?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:10 am

Hello abbisnana,

The use of dialysis is to provide artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with renal failure. It may be used in other situations, such as with an acute kidney injury, or in progressive, chronically worsening kidney function, or stage 5 chronic kidney disease (also known as end-stage kidney disease). Dialysis is used until a renal transplant if transplant can be performed, or as the only treatment if transplant is not an option.

I'm not sure what the nurse actually meant, but it's possible for dialysis to continue almost indefinitely. The failure to produce urine is an indication that dialysis is needed. People who are able to make sufficient urine do not require dialysis, unless there is an injury as noted above. The time a person "has left" is determined by the success of dialysis, or replacing kidney function, and any other diseases that might be present, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disease, cardiac disease, or other conditions. If your mother's condition is grave, her physician is the best person to estimate how long dialysis might be successful. Her ability to attend dialysis and return home doesn't indicate an imminent end or sound like the situation is grave. This is obviously a stressful situation for your mother and your family, and I encourage you and your mother to clarify this with her physician.

Good luck to you both.

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