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A life-changing new treatment

How transitioning to home dialysis gave 14-year-old Eda Saraç from Bolu, Turkey renewed energy for school and friends.

Eda Saraç first suffered from nephritis when she was just one year old. The condition, which can result from infection, toxins or, most commonly, autoimmune disease, causes inflammation of the kidneys and can lead to decreased kidney function. Despite aggressive treatment, Eda began dialysis when she was only seven. Unfortunately, a donor kidney from her parents was not an option: her kind of nephritis would likely reoccur with a relative’s kidney.

After two years of haemodialysis, Eda was lucky to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. But the same disease attacked her new kidney and she had to go back on dialysis. This came as a shock for her, but thanks to home dialysis she has regained control of her life and the new therapy gives her the drive to pursue her education.

Home dialysis- Eda’s better option

Before switching to home dialysis Eda was frustrated about missing school two days a week to get treatment. Moreover, she was experiencing symptoms that made it hard for her to concentrate in school. She often couldn’t quickly recall the answers to her teacher’s questions, although she knew them.

For most teenagers, having an active social life is a big part of growing, developing and becoming an adult, and Eda was no exception. However, regular dialysis limited the time she could spend with her friends.

Last year, Filiz Çalisir, head nurse at Eda’s dialysis centre, told Eda and her parents about a new treatment method: gradual but longer dialysis, which could also be performed at home. It could help eliminate some of her symptoms so she could attend school and be more successful. Her mother was hesitant at first but Eda insisted on trying. At 13 her biggest wish was to feel better and be academically successful so she could become an emergency medical technician who helps patients.

So Eda and her mother began practicing performing dialysis at the centre. Everybody was surprised about how skilfully Eda inserted the needles into her vein. After a while, Eda and her mother realised it wasn’t as hard as they’d thought, which also set a good example for other patients.

In addition to learning how to perform the Actual dialysis, in-home treatment required the installation of a comprehensive dialysis machine and water system in Eda’s family home. In many respects, Eda is lucky to live in Turkey: her country supports patients who want to try home dialysis but this is not the case in all countries.

Pursuing her dreams

After a little practice, Eda got the hang of performing dialysis at home, and so was able to go to school every day. At the end of the school day, she now goes home for 7-8 hours of dialysis with her mother’s assistance. As Nurse Filiz explained, by cleaning her blood slowly over a long period the new treatment helps eliminate some of the side effects Eda had been experiencing.

A diligent student, Eda takes advantage of the time on dialysis and uses it to study. And thanks to home dialysis, Eda finally has her social life back and she is happy to see her friends regularly. Now she can spend more time with her parents, too.

One and a half years have passed since Eda first started performing haemodialysis at home. When asked how her life has changed she explained ‘During the first nine months, I put on weight: I was so thin before, now I feel physically and emotionally better’.

When asked about other changes, Eda added, ‘Now, I can follow what my teacher is saying and participate in class. I’m no different to the other children in the classroom. My grade in maths was really bad, but now I’ve improved a lot and am sure I’ll get even better grades soon.’