Patients Get Blood Cleaned While They Sleep

Medical Procedure Done Overnight

Thousands of Coloradans have their bodies drained of blood weekly. It’s something that wipes them out, but not anymore. People with renal failure, kidney failure, can undergo their dialysis treatment at night – while they sleep.

Gayle Quinn is one of those patients. She must do dialysis three times a week, work full-time and still have time to sleep and relax. If you didn’t ask, you’d have no idea she is close to dying.

“We don’t think about being sick; we don't think about our ailments,” said Quinn.

Quinn has kidney failure. She is waiting for a transplant, but until that day comes she spends her golden years at Davita, a dialysis clinic in Lone Tree.

“This is the most important thing for me to do to keep me alive is to come to dialysis,” said Quinn.

Dialysis is vital for thousands of Coloradans like Quinn with kidneys that don’t work. Blood is pulled from a patient’s body, cleaned, and then pumped back inside the patient.

Traditional dialysis is done over a grueling three-to four-hour period.

“It was a struggle,” said Quinn. “I was tired all the time.”

But a simple idea changed that. Quinn now does dialysis while she sleeps.

“Doing them both at the same time made a lot of sense to me,” said Quinn.

Quinn arrives at Davita around 8 p.m., three nights a week, with her blanket and bedroll.

“It's like going to an overnight party, a slumber party,” said Quinn. “They pull out the same amount of fluid from my body, whether it is eight hours or four hours. Doing it over eight hours is a much gentler removal and of course it doesn't make me tired because I am asleep.”

That is a stark contrast, Quinn said, compared to what life used to be like.

“During the day, the four hours was very difficult because they were pulling so much out and I was exhausted afterwards,” said Quinn.

Not everyone, though, is a perfect candidate for nocturnal dialysis.

“To sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers can be somewhat difficult,” said Dr. Stuart Senkfor of Rose Medical Center, who oversees Davita’s Lone Tree location. “There are some people that just cannot fall asleep.”

Senkfor said nocturnal dialysis will become the new trend for patients with kidney failure.

The American Association of Kidney Patients agreed and said dialysis while sleeping has significant health benefits and improves a person’s quality of life.

“It truly has been a godsend for me professionally and personally,” said Quinn.

Davita offers nocturnal dialysis at four of its locations across Colorado. They are in Lakewood, Lone Tree, Colorado Springs and Westminster.

A second company, Fresenius, also offers overnight dialysis in Colorado.

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