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What Hemodialysis Does and How It Works

Healthy kidneys filter toxins, waste and excess fluid out of the blood. Kidneys stop performing these functions in cases of chronic kidney failure, the gradual loss of kidney function. When the disease reaches the advanced stage, dangerous levels of toxins and electrolytes build up in the body. Without dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant, this can be fatal.

Dialysis is the process of artificially cleansing the body of toxins and excess fluid. The two types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis filters the blood using a dialysis machine, an artificial kidney called a dialyzer, and a washing fluid called dialysate. Blood must be removed from a patient’s blood vessels and circulated through the artificial kidney. Doctors create a permanent access port in the patient’s blood vessels that allows blood to flow in and out of the body.

Types of dialysis access include:

  • Fistulas
  • Grafts or,
  • Catheters

During hemodialysis, blood flows out of the body through the port and into tubing connected to the dialyzer. The dialyzer contains two chambers separated by a thin membrane. One chamber holds the blood and the other contains the washing fluid, or dialysate. Excess fluid and waste products in the blood—urea, creatinine and potassium—pass through the membrane and are washed away. Larger particles such as blood cells and protein remain in the blood because they are too big to pass through the membrane. The purified blood flows out of the dialyzer through more tubing and back into the body.

Dialysate, the washing solution, is a major part of the hemodialysis process. Recently, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMC) recalled two of their acid concentrates, which are components of the dialysate solution. The concentrates contained misleading product labeling that can lead to potentially fatal dosage errors. GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, the recalled solutions, were used between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012.

If you or a loved one suffered a heart attack or some other serious cardiac injury during dialysis or shortly afterwards, you may be eligible for compensation. To find out more, contact a GranuFlo kidney dialysis attorney at Schmidt Kramer. Call us today at (717) 888-8888 for a free consultation and let a Harrisburg personal injury lawyer from our law firm review the merits of your claim.