Newly diagnosed kidney failure patients are required to go through a procedure to connect an artery and vein to create a fistula (vascular access) to allow a large flow of blood to carry out haemodialysis. The fistula takes about three months to mature before it can be used for dialysis. Meanwhile, to sustain lives, a permanent catheter — to exchange blood to and from a haemodialysis machine and a patient— is placed under the skin along the upper chest under the collarbone to allow for immediate dialysis treatment.
“I started dialysis two years ago. As I often suffer frequent clotted access due to my narrow veins, the quality of my dialysis treatments was affected. I was hospitalised seven times, and warded up to three days each time, during my first year of dialysis.
I started dialysis on my left arm but my vein was narrow, so I had to undergo the procedure to connect my artery and vein three times without any success. Eventually, the entire left arm was deemed unsuitable for dialysis. I also underwent the same procedure on my right arm. However, I was hospitalised multiple times due to persistent clotted access issue. It was torturous.
Thankfully, my condition has improved tremendously over the years, although I require longer hours of dialysis as the condition of my veins are not ideal.
Each dialysis session lasts about four-and-a-half hours. I often suffer from leg cramps and fatigue from sitting down for too long. I frequently check with the nurse if it is possible to end my dialysis session earlier. It would be good even if it is just 15 minutes earlier.”
– Chan Why Fun, 66