Can I Get Off Dialysis?
In 2004, I prepared a 90-minute DVD entitled “Saying No to Dialysis” to patient education. Over the years, nearly everyone who saw the DVD told our staff that they found it very illuminating in its scientific content and practical guidelines.
On March 31, 2015, The New York Times published an article on dialysis entitled “Learning to Say No to Dialysis.” I glanced it and knew I had to read it word by word. I knew there are two ways of saying No to dialysis:
First, to make dialysis unneeded by a program of reversing kidney failure.
Second, to say No to dialysis and accept death on a short order.
The New York Times Lets Readers Down, Again
The New York Times has a long tradition of letting readers down. It seldom, if ever, serves them by offering them authentic counterpoints to its positions by practitioners who actually reverse chronic diseases by natural remedies. It did so again on March 31, 2015 when its article on dialysis was titled “Learning to Say No to Dialysis.”
Patients Are Not Adequately Informed About the Burdens
The above words made up a caption in the Times’ articles. It sounds very noble and it is so but in one limited way. The thrust o the Times’ article is to honor the right of people who wish not to live with dialysis. This would be supported by all reasonable people. But most readers will not recognize the problem with the Times’ article.
Times Completely Ignored Natural Therapies That can Reverse Kidney Failure
True to its traditions, the newspaper said nothing about natural remedies that can help reverse kidney failure to such degrees that health is significantly improved and the need for dialysis eliminated or delayed for years.
My Qualifications for Challenging The New York Times:
1. I am the senior author of a textbook of pathology of dialysis.
2. I have published articles to document cases in which blood creatinine level (the gold standard for kidney function) were lowered and the need for dialysis was obviated. Indeed, none of our patients presented with blood creatinine level of less than 4 mg/mL had to go on dialysis.
3. I am the producer of a 90-minute DVD in which I present central scientific facts concerning the matter and offer my guidelines for natural remedies.
Can I Get Off Dialysis?
Can I get off dialysis? I have been asked this question many times since 2005 when I published my data showing that chronic kidney failure can be reversed. My answer: There is only one person who can answer this question: You.
In my published article, I reported that none of my patients who saw me with incremental kidney failure (creatinine level below 4 mg/dL) before starting dialysis went on to dialysis under my care, However, I have not been able to reverse kidney failure for patients who were on dialysis for more than a year. There are many reasons for this. First, dialysis costs $70 thousand to $100 thousand per patient per year. However, no reimbursement is allowed for nondrug natural therapies to reverse kidney failure. So most patients were unable to follow my program fully for more than three months to test this possibility. Second, I was not able to tell them that I had been able to help some patients indeed get off dialysis. Lacking such knowledge I was not surprised when they could not fully commit to the project. Third, the disease processes that make dialysis necessary often cause widespread tissue damage in organs other than the kidneys. So the reversal of kidney failure also requires control and/or reversal of other coexisting disorders. For years, I patiently waited for one such patient who was willing and able to explore this option in a meaningful way. Finally, it happened. Below is the case study of the man who made his dream (and mine) come true.
I am ambivalent about posting this account. I fear that it might create high hopes for many who may not be able to undertake this journey. The success of one man by no account assures that of another. Yet, withholding such information seems to be a serious ethical lapse. So, here its is.
I’ll Not Take Dialysis Any More
A 69-year-old man consulted me on February 1, 2011. He had received hemodialysis for eighteen months.
“I’ll not take dialysis any more.”A 69-year-old man announced as he entered my consultation room the office February 1, 2011.
“Are you on dialysis now?” I asked.
“Yes, I was for 18 months.”
“You must know it is not safe to go off dialysis like that.”
“I know. I know. This is my decision,” he spoke firmly, looking at me with penetrating eyes.
The number of people who take their lives every year by discontinuing dialysis in the United States runs into thousands, some years exceeding 12,000. This was a shocking number when I first encountered it while co-writing “The Pathology of Maintenance Hemodialysis” (1982), the first textbook on the subject, with professor Alfred Fayemi of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. In the following years, even higher numbers of such loss of lives were routinely cited without raising any eyebrows. My mind drifted to conditions that might lead women and men to this decision.
“What caused the kidney failure that led to dialysis?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied indifferently.
“Did you have high blood pressure?’
“Any heart disease?”
“Yes, they gave me a defibrillation treatment after I had a stroke. That was a year before they put me on dialysis.”
“Did you a coronary artery stent?”
“That too. I don’t want dialysis anymore.”
“Why? Because I’m disgusted.”
“Are you depressed?”
“No. Not depressed but disgusted.”
I examined him. He was in congestive heart failure with fluid in his lungs, swollen legs, and a rapid heart beat with premature heartbeats. Then in the presence of his family, I spoke at length about the dangers of abruptly stopping dialysis. Finally, I told him that I would diligently work with him to see if that would be possible but only if he resumed dialysis. To my surprise he agreed. Fast forward to mid August 2011
The Hospital Said I No More Need Dialysis
“The doctors at the hospital told me I don’t need dialysis anymore,” he beamed as he was ushered into my consultation room.
“Good! That’s good! Did they really say that?”
“When did you get your last dialysis treatment?”
“Almost three months ago.”
“That really is good!” I felt a surge of excitement and wondered what his blood creatinine level might be. It was eight or more, there would be little reason to really get excited. “So the doctors at the hospital really didn’t think you needed more dialysis?” I asked, recognizing the irrelevance of the question.
“No, they didn’t give me another dialysis appointment.
I stood up and examined him. There was no edema of legs, nor fluid in lungs. His heartbeat was stable, though with premature beats every now and then. There was no undue abdominal protuberance indicating free fluids in the peritoneal cavity. Still, there was the unanswered question of the blood creatinine level. I had to wait for the laboratory to settle that. Next day, the answer arrived: a blood creatinine level of 4.5 mg/dL. That validated the decision of the hospital doctors to discontinue dialysis.
Don’t Count the Chicken Yet
I anticipate skepticism from nephrologists (kidney specilaists) who never consider the possibility of discontinuing dialysis. Don’t Count the Chicken yet, many of them will admonish me. The condition of the patient can rapidly deteriorate necessitating dialysis. Point made and taken, however, it is also possible that he will continue to follow our program for reversing kidney failure and for improving cardiovascular status through improving the oxygen homeostasis. That’s the point!
So the message of the man in the story is possibility, not promise. Why can benefit from this case study? Only those who are open to the possibility and able to test it out.
Success in Failure
What if one tries to get off dialysis and fails? My program for reversing kidney failure and for improving cardiovascular status through improving the oxygen homeostasis helps everyone. It goes a long way to prevent serious complications of dialysis. The dialysis machines, as good as they are, are never a full replacement of natural kidneys. So, even in failure, one succeeds. That’s the second point!