The MUHC has begun a program that will allow patients who require dialysis to undergo the procedure at home while they sleep. The new therapy, known as nocturnal home hemodialysis, takes approximately seven hours, five nights per week, and results in significant health and lifestyle benefits.
Because nocturnal home hemodialysis is conducted while patients sleep, it allows them to lead a normal life during the day. "In less than two weeks the program has changed my life forever," says Mario Pion, the first patient to take part in the nocturnal home hemodialysis program at the MUHC. "My energy level has improved, I sleep better and I have been able to reduce my medication — it's simply incredible."
"Nocturnal home hemodialysis allows patients to be dialyzed more frequently and less intensively than in hospital settings," says Dr. Bernard Unikowsky, Senior Physician at the MUHC and Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University. "In addition to significant health improvements, such as better blood pressure control allowing a reduction in medications, patients often find their appetite improves. Fewer dietary restrictions allow patients to enjoy their improved appetite. This leads to better health and quality of life."
Nocturnal home hemodialysis is not for everyone. Patients interested in taking part must undergo a 4-6 week training session during which they are taught to operate the dialysis equipment, to connect and disconnect themselves properly, and troubleshoot alarms. Patients must also undergo a home evaluation, to ensure that storage, electrical power supply, and water quality and drainage requirements are met.
"The comprehensive training course and home evaluation are important safety measures," says Fe Esguerra, Head Nurse of Dialysis Services at the MUHC. "Our dialysis machines are also Internet-linked to a monitoring centre, where trained personnel are on hand throughout the night to deal with potential problems." A second patient is scheduled to begin the nocturnal home hemodialysis program in July. The MUHC hopes to have five patients enjoying the benefits of nocturnal home hemodialysis by the end of this year.
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.