Travel Dialysis : Can you go out

Travelling is one of the most important aspects to mental well-being of a person who is on dialysis or has undergone kidney transplant. Freedom of movement helps build up their self-esteem. Patients who have professional obligations may need to attend meetings or conferences. Many older patients would also wish to travel during their retirement or attend family gatherings. Sometimes emergencies would require the patients to travel away from home.

Is it possible for patients taking dialysis to travel?

Yes, with proper planning and precaution most patients can travel safely and continue their treatment while travelling away from home. You should consult with your nephrologist and dietician before planning any sort of travel. Most doctors will encourage travel if patient's health is stable. Travelling can give a big boost to a patient's morale and sense of well-being.

What steps should hemodialysis patients take before planning a trip?

Apex has 54 centres throughout India with some of them being in major tourist spots like Goa, Ratnagiri, Chiplun, Dapoli and Wai near Mahabaleshwar. If you plan to travel to a place which is not in the Apex Dialysis Network, the doctors will help you get in touch with dialysis centers from which you can take your dialysis. Some centers will assist patients in making their own arrangements.

It is necessary to start planning at least six to eight weeks in advance. Do not make hectic schedules for sight seeing. Be flexible with what you can see in a particular destination. Be flexible about the travel dates for your trip. You will have to talk to the dialysis units first, schedules appointments and plan your travel accordingly as space in dialysis units may be limited.

You or your family may need to contact more than one center in order to find a center that can provide dialysis for you. Check with the center as soon as you arrive to confirm your appointment. You may also want to visit the center and meet the staff so you will feel more comfortable.

How do i plan my business trip?

Talk to your nephrologist and dietician first. They will help you plan your trip so that dialysis at another dialysis unit can be avoided. Your dietician will also suggest a specific diet for you for situations like this.

If dialysis at another unit is unavoidable, your dialysis support team will suggest units where you will be able to take your dialysis. Keep a list of documents and reports ready with you when you contact the dialysis unit. Also confirm appointments with unit as soon as you reach your destination.

This can also be done if you are going to be travelling to multiple destinations. Avoid over exhertion at all costs and make time to get dialysis when required. Your nephrologist will consult you on the same.

What information will my transient dialysis center need to safely provide dialysis for me?

Most dialysis centers require the following information to assess your health and plan for your dialysis with them:

  • the dates you need dialysis treatment
  • your name, address, etc.
  • medical history and recent physical exam reports
  • recent lab results
  • recent EKG
  • recent chest x-ray
  • your dialysis prescription and 3 to 5 recent treatment records
  • dialysis access type
  • type of dialyser
  • whether you will be bringing the dialyser with you
  • whether you will be undergoing high flux or low flux dialysis
  • special needs or dialysis requirements
  • information about your general health
  • insurance information
  • where you will be staying in the area
  • a list of the medications you take during treatment and at home.
  • A reference letter from your nephrologist

Once you have finalised on the unit for dialysis it is recommended that you mail all the documents ahead as well as carry them with you. This information will be reviewed by destination center. It is important for the doctor and transient center to know as much about you as possible in order to care for your needs while visiting their center.

How can I be sure about the quality of care I will be getting away from my regular center?

You may want to ask the following questions when making your arrangements for hemodialysis during your trip:

  • Does the center reuse dialyzers?
  • Does the center reuse dialyser tubings?
  • What is the average treatment length of dialysis at the center?
  • Can they provide the treatment time your doctor has prescribed?
  • What are the hours and days of operation? Traveling patients often are placed on an evening shift, which could end as early as 7:30 p.m. or as late as 11:00 p.m..
  • What types of dialyzers are used?
  • Can you use the same type of dialyzer you use at your home center?
  • Can i carry my own dialyser and dialyser tubing?
  • What types of dialysis machine does the center have (conventional, high flux capability)?
  • Does the center have medications that i take at my home dialysis center.
  • Are patients permitted to eat or drink while on dialysis?
  • Is there an ICU facility at the clinic or nearby?
  • Is public transportation available to get to the center?
  • How many patients are assigned to each nurse or patient care technician?
  • How many bedded unit is it?

What precautions should i take when travelling?

  • Avoid over exhertion. Be realistic when planning activities. Allow enough time to enjoy sightseeing outings and activities without becoming overtired.
  • Be very particular about your diet and fluid intake.
  • Confirm your appointment with the dialysis center you might take dialysis at and visit it if necessary.
  • Find out how to contact the doctor when you first arrive.
  • If you do become ill, call the dialysis center or doctor as instructed.
  • It is possible that a transient patient may require hospitalization. If this should happen to you, find out prior to planning the trip what all hospitals are available in the vicinity.
  • Preparing ahead for this possibility can help make the experience less stressful.
  • Make sure your family knows your travel plans.
  • Make sure you have important phone numbers with such names as your regular doctor, dialysis center, etc. Have a copy of your medical records with you while traveling.
  • Make sure anyone who is traveling with you knows where you keep your records and what your medical needs are.
  • Make sure to bring enough of the medications you need to take to last for the entire trip, with enough extra to deal with possible emergencies such as lost luggage or a spill.
  • Also carry written prescriptions just in case.

Is it possible to travel if you are active on a transplant waiting list?

Yes. Simply inform your transplant coordinator about your travel plans. The coordinator will help you decide whether to be "on hold" during the trip or whether you would be able to return within a reasonable amount of time if a kidney became available. Arrange to be contacted in the event a kidney becomes available.

What should diabetic patients know about traveling?

Since the unexpected may happen during a trip and meals may be delayed, you should carry supplies to treat low blood sugar. It's a good idea to travel with a take-away lunch or a packaged nutritional supplement in case of delays. Managing your diabetes can be made simpler by having insulin, syringes and blood glucose monitoring supplies handy.