Outset Medical

How to Have a Happy Life Doing Hemodialysis at Home

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Norman and Susie in Pebble Beach, CA, 2022. This story is excerpted from Outset Medical DOC 1799-v1 (v1.3).

Norman and his wife Susie describe lessons learned on their path to enjoying autonomy while managing his hemodialysis at home—and how kidney disease quite possibly saved his life.

You might say that Norman, a retired dentist, and his wife Susie are living a fairytale life in Southern California after getting married at Disneyland 51 years ago. Today, even after battling bladder cancer, coronary artery disease and kidney failure, and experiences with hospital, in-center and home hemodialysis, Norman is feeling lucky and blessed, enjoying gardening, golf, dining out with friends and other activities.

As a chronic kidney disease (CKD) patient, how is he able to have such a positive attitude?

Norman attributes it to these three lessons learned in the last year since starting hemodialysis at home:

From ER to Dialysis Chair Time

As with many kidney disease patients, Norman’s initial diagnosis took him by surprise. He had hypertension—a key risk factor—and even though he was on medication it wasn’t adequately controlled. In November 2017, he ended up in the emergency room, and found out that he was nearing end-stage kidney disease (ESKD; also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD). He spent six days in the hospital on dialysis.

After getting out of the hospital, Norman spent a few months receiving dialysis treatments three days a week at a clinic. “It wasn’t ideal. There was no leeway, no forgiving with the scheduling, and I didn’t get a lot of rest because of how busy the clinic was and all the alarms going off,” he says.

A Switch to Hemodialysis at Home

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Susie installing a Tablo cartridge prior to Norman’s dialysis treatment

In May of 2022, Norman and Susie decided they had enough of the dialysis clinic. After talking to Norman’s nephrologist, they made the decision to transition to hemodialysis at home. Norman had begun cannulating himself in-center, so he felt comfortable placing the needles himself at home. After training on another machine, they decided to switch to Tablo. With help from their care team, they completed the quick Tablo training and Susie began helping Norman with treatment at home.

Norman and Susie sum up their Tablo experience in one word: autonomy. “We can do treatment whenever we want, on the days that we want, and switch it up if needed. We can bend and flex, meet my care team’s expectations and still get all of my treatments done,” says Norman.

“Before treatment usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I’m usually out working on our garden,” he says. “We do the treatment at about nine, and as soon as we’re done, I’m outside again. I love that the most. I enjoy spending time in nature, rather than sitting in the dialysis center. My life isn’t dictated by a dialysis center anymore. It is so wonderful to have the flexibility.”

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Norman at home with his Tablo during a dialysis treatment

Kidney Disease as a Lifesaver

In retrospect, Norman says that his kidney disease probably saved his life. Following his initial hospital stay and dialysis, he had gone home, but started experiencing abdominal pain. He ended up in the emergency room once again, where imaging tests spotted an aggressive form of cancer on his bladder. Once his kidney disease was stabilized, he underwent cancer surgery in 2018.  

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Susie and Norman in their backyard

“Every once in a while, you get a little down about having kidney failure, but you know what? If not for that I probably wouldn’t be here. By the time you have symptoms with bladder cancer it can be too late,” he says.

“I would tell anybody starting on dialysis, do it at home, you don’t have to deal with the nonsense of a center’s schedule,” he continues. “It may seem a little daunting, but just take those first couple of steps and you will be so happy.”


* Tablo Hemodialysis System Disclaimer: Results may vary. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information. It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications, and benefits of this product with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your physician’s judgment. Only your doctor can determine if home dialysis is suitable for you, and if you are a suitable candidate for treatment with the Tablo Hemodialysis System.

For safety and effectiveness information, indications for use, risks, cautions and warnings, please refer to the product labeling for the Tablo Hemodialysis System.

This article was posted on May 5th, 2023