Life-Expectancy of a New Kidney and Dialysis Patient
This is my first time posting and I'm pretty new to kidney failure altogether, so go easy on me, please.
It was recently discovered that my husband is in stage 5 renal failure; he is 34 years old. As of now, we do not know the cause, just that his kidneys are so atrophied that they were hard to find on an ultrasound and his creatinine levels are over 6. He's been told by his nephrologist that he is a good candidate for PD and we hope to have him off the transplant list within four years. Up until now, while this has been devastating for both of us, we've been very hopeful that his life will go back to normal after a transplant. This is, of course, assuming all goes well and his body takes to the new kidney.
While doing research into kidney transplants, I learned the unfortunately news that kidney transplants are only expected to last 10, maybe 15, years. That was upsetting, but I read further (this was on DaVita) that after the transplant fails, persons with CKD typically go back on dialysis and many wait for a second transplant. Unfortunately, I then read on http://www.bidmc.org that patients on dialysis typically have a life span of only 5 years. I feel like I've been naive and uninformed up until this time; I really thought that dialysis could sustain a life without kidneys indefinitely.
My questions are: is this information accurate? Is it possible that I may only have 5 years left with my husband (barring sudden death by other unforeseeable causes)? Also, if he does receive a transplant and it fails by the time he's 44 years old, will he be able to start over with dialysis or will the years he spends on it now count against those he last left the second time around?
I will post this under transplants as well as it has to do with dialysis and transplants at the same time.
As you read more posts on these Forums from dialysis patients you will find individuals who have been cycling thorugh dialysis and kidney transplants for decades. Clearly most of these folks experience kidney failure at a young age and that young age has worked greatly in their favor. The great number of individuals in kidney failure and on dialysis are elderly, which greatly increases the likelihood of medical complications and mortality due to age related illnesses or even dialysis itself. Also recognize that a very high percentage (>50%) of these patients have been diabetics for decades, which dramatically increases the likelihood of a litany of serious medical complications.
I too am startled by the "5 year average mortality for a dialysis patient", especially since my mother-in-law nearly died of uremic poisoning owed to undiagnosed PKD in the late 1960's and then remarkably survived on 2 or 3 times weekly hemodialysis for the better part of 9 years, expiring in 1977 at 63. Two years after starting HHD I firmly belive that my health is better than is was before hemodialysis. I have the "imposition" of conducting 5 HHD treatments per week against my full time employment that does incude multi-night business travel, but seeing the results in my monthly labs and my ability to maintain an active life, makes it all worthwhile.
Kidney transplantation, hemodialysis and care of patients have advanced significantly in the last 40 years and this alone would be sufficient to increase life spans. It's possible that other advances have enabled those in kidney failure to delay dialysis later in life when other age related ailments become more prevalent. The statistics on kidney transplants are equally disconcerting. The "average" life span of a cadaver kidney is 7 years, a live donor kidney 10 years. There are transplant patients that experience kidney failure in half this time and others that go on to twice the "average" lives. The factors that influence these results are many, ranging from the condition of the donor kidney and the behavior of the recipient, e.g. discipline in diet, infection exposure, medication regimen. The anti-rejection drugs a recipient must take increase the suceptability of certain cancers, are also toxic to the transplanted kidney, and can cause other medical complications.
I cannot emphasize enough the living proof of the contributors to these Forums as the plentiful exceptions to the "dialysis only extends a life by about 5 years" statement.
Keep in mind that kidney failure is often just the latest health problem for people with multiple health issues. Uncontrolled diabetes will often result in eventual kidney failure. Heart disease can eventually develop into kidney failure. In fact, a LOT of very, very sick people will develop kidney failure shortly before they finally die from their myriad of health issues. So, therefore, for every person such as myself who has no other issues besides a hereditary kidney issue, there is somebody who weighs 600 lbs and smokes 5 packs a day, who has been through 3 heart attacks and 2 strokes who has also developed kidney failure. Any guess as to how long each of us is likely to live?
FWIW, my mother lived with kidney failure for about 10 years (she smoked, and ended up dying from lung cancer, BTW), and I've met at least 1 person who has lived on dialysis for more than 20 years.
Thank you so, so very much for this information. Since I first posted, I have indeed seen many posts and articles about persons on dialysis living long and happy lives. Your response and such posts as mentioned have been encouraging beyond words.
Thank you, Jason, that's also very reassuring. My husband is very healthy besides the CKD, so we're going to do our best to keep him that way and prolong any transplant he may have for as long as possible.