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Kelly, 43, works full-time, volunteers as a referee for community basketball, and loves to golf and fish. When his kidneys failed in April 2009, he knew that he wanted a treatment option that would allow him to keep doing all the things he loves. He chose continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD).
Because Kelly has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 5 years old, his kidneys have been under stress for many years. When he needed heart bypass surgery at the age of 23, the dyes used during the cardiac testing procedures put additional stress on his kidneys. After a second bypass in 2000, Kelly began to see a nephrologist, who worked with him to preserve his kidney function. “We got 9 more years out of my natural kidneys,” Kelly noted. But the stress of another heart surgery—this time to implant a defibrillator— proved to be too much. “I had the defibrillator surgery on Friday and my kidneys stopped working on Monday,” Kelly remembered.
The sudden onset of kidney failure meant that Kelly had to start dialysis on an emergency basis, doing hemodialysis treatments with a catheter. He also began planning to switch to peritoneal dialysis (PD) as soon as he could. “My nephrologist recommended PD because I have such an active lifestyle,” he added, “and I decided that would be best for me. I wanted to keep working and doing all the things I like to do.”
Just 2 weeks after Kelly’s first hemodialysis treatment, he started PD training. “The training took about 2 weeks,” Kelly recalled. “I was one of the first people in the area to get a Liberty® PD cycler from Fresenius Medical Care,” he noted. “It was easy to learn how to set it up and use it.” Kelly also learned how to do PD by hand, just in case of an equipment or power failure. As an additional safety measure, Kelly’s wife, Penny, also learned how to set up and run his PD cycler.
One month after his kidneys failed, Kelly was back on the job as the Civil Engineering Designer for the City of Bristol, Virginia. “I almost had to argue with Social Security when I told them I didn’t want disability and Medicare,” he reported. “I can work; I feel good, and I haven’t been sick any more than anyone else.”
Kelly’s employer has been very understanding. “I explained to my city manager that I needed to do a manual exchange at lunchtime. I could go home to do it and be gone for an hour, or find a place at work and stay on the job. We found a nice, clean, quiet spot in the computer room and I can work while I drain and fill,” he added.
Kelly hooks up to his cycler about 9 pm each night. The cycler runs 5 fill and drain cycles/exchanges overnight—using 10 liters of dialysate. Then, at 6 am, Kelly disconnects and gets ready to start his day. He actually does a manual dwell/exchange every 4-5 hours during the day, carrying 2000mL of dialysate in his abdomen. “It’s not uncomfortable or painful” he noted, “and you really don’t notice anything out of the ordinary during your day to day routines.”
“The process is absolutely not a big deal,” Kelly commented. “After the cycler is programmed, you don’t really need to touch it. It handles everything.” Kelly has even learned to sleep through the off/on sounds of the cycler as it completes the exchanges. “It woke me up for the first month,” he pointed out, “now I don’t even hear it.”
Until Kelly gets a call to come in for a kidney/pancreas transplant, he plans to stick with PD. “I deeply believe that God’s plan for me is a long way from being fulfilled. I thank God daily for my life, wife, and family. I feel very blessed,” said Kelly. “Even with all the craziness and health challenges, I can still do what I want to do.”
“On hemo I felt ‘almost normal’ on the days between treatments, but on dialysis days I was useless. Life is too short for that,” he noted. PD, on the other hand, is gentler and easier to live with. “It’s 7 days a week just like your own kidneys,” he said. Best of all, his days are free for work, community events, church, and family.
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