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Treatment Options

There is no cure for end stage kidney disease and therefore each person with end stage kidney disease must select from each of the treatment options listed below. For more information please click on each of these options:

  1. Transplantation (Live Donor, Paired Donor Exchange or Deceased Donor)
  2. Hemodialysis
  3. Peritoneal Dialysis 
  4. Conservative management

1. Transplant Options

a. Live Donor Transplant
A live donor transplant, occurs when a live person donates one of their kidneys to another person. A living donor can be a close family member – immediate or extended family or an unrelated person.  Donor compatibility is established through blood tests that look for matching blood types and antigens. The overall health of the potential donor is also of critical importance.
b. Living Donor Paired Exchange
Living donor paired exchange occurs between patients with a willing but incompatible donor and other pairs in the same situation. While medically eligible to donate, each donor has an incompatible blood type or antigens to his or her intended recipient. By agreeing to exchange recipients-giving the kidney to an unknown, but compatible individual-the donors can provide two patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible. 
c. Deceased Donor
Patients with end stage kidney disease who are transplant candidates and who do not have the option of a living donor transplant join the waiting list for a deceased donor. The majority of kidneys transplanted in Canada are from deceased donors.
For more information about kidney transplantation in Nova Scotia click on: Multi-Organ Transplant Program.
For information on organ and tissue donation click on:  Legacy of Life Program (Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program).
For more information on the Living Donor Paired Exchange, log onto the CBS Organs and Tissue website.

2. Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis or “cleaning the blood” is performed by withdrawing blood from the body, with the help of a machine and passing the blood through an artificial kidney. A small amount of blood is cleaned at a time by taking out the waste and extra water and then returned to your body. 
Hemodialysis can be performed in three types of locations in Nova Scotia:
a. In-Centre 
In-Centre hemodialysis units are typically for those who can no longer be treated in a satellite unit or by home dialysis. They typically provide hemodialysis for more complex patients that require additional medical and healthcare support.  In Nova Scotia, they are located in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sydney and Yarmouth. Click here for information on In-Centre hemodialysis units in Nova Scotia.
b. Satellite
Satellite units provide hemodialysis care for individuals that meet specific medical criteria closer to home and lessen the travel burden for many individuals in Nova Scotia. Click here for information on satellite dialysis units in Nova Scotia.
c. In Your Home (Home Dialysis) 
Home hemodialysis has been available in Nova Scotia for over thirty-five years. This treatment option allows you to fit your dialysis around your schedule by performing it at home with support and back-up from a dialysis program. Home hemodialysis can be performed during the day or at night while you sleep. For additional information on home dialysis in Nova Scotia click to see home therapies pamphlets (English, French, Arabic) or Home Dialysis.

3. Peritoneal Dialysis 

Peritoneal Dialysis or PD has been available in Nova Scotia for over thirty years. PD uses a natural membrane in your abdomen to help clean wastes and excess water from your body. A tube is inserted into your abdomen, so that a solution can be instilled and drained regularly to clean your blood. Peritoneal dialysis can be performed during the day or at night while you sleep. For additional information on home dialysis in Nova Scotia click to see home therapies pamphlets (English, French, Arabic) or Home Dialysis.

4. Conservative management 

Conservative management is a treatment option in which you will be provided medical and supportive care, both physical and emotional, if you decide to let the disease run its natural course. If you choose the conservative care treatment option, you and your family will work with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that honours your wishes, and helps you and your family obtain the support and comfort you need. For additional information see the Kidney Foundation of Canada brochure: Conservative Treatment: Choosing Not to Start Dialysis
For information on kidney disease and treatment options see the Kidney Foundation of Canada: Living with Kidney Disease Manual

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