Dialysis doesn’t slow over-the-road trucker From Spotlight on Health - Summer 2011
John Watson and his wife, Pat, of Rice, had been driving truck together for more than 52 years. Even after John was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in January 2010 and needed to begin dialysis, he was able to continue working.
“At first, I didn’t know what to do,” John said. “I had been driving truck my whole life and thought dialysis would prevent me from doing what I love.”
Over-the-road trucker John Watson
John was referred to the CentraCare Kidney Program where he was given the option of peritoneal dialysis, a process to dissolve substances from the blood (see accompanying information at bottom of page).
“Peritoneal dialysis gave me total freedom and allowed me to continue doing what I loved — trucking with my wife,” John said.
In 2010, John was one of a few truckers out of 3.5 million drivers in the United States who underwent dialysis in his truck. “I would do my nine-hour dialysis treatment while I slept in the cab as I traveled all over the United States,” John said.
After beginning dialysis, John drove more than 150,000 miles. He has since retired from driving truck, but continues to go wherever the day may take him.“Dialysis hasn’t slowed me down,” John said. “I just keep on truckin’.”
View John's story on YouTube
Learn more about CentraCare Kidney Program
Dialysis takes the role of kidneys
The kidneys are responsible for maintaining an internal balance of water and minerals in addition to producing a limited number of hormones. Although dialysis doesn’t replace lost hormones, it does remove excess fluids and waste.
Types of renal replacement therapy:
Hemodialysis is used to remove waste products from the blood when the kidneys are in renal failure. Hemodialysis can be an outpatient or inpatient therapy. Treatments are managed by specialized staff including nurses and technicians. Routine hemodialysis is done in an outpatient facility. Hemodialysis can be done at home with the assistance of a trained helper who is usually a family member.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a treatment for patients with severe chronic kidney disease. The process uses a thin layer of tissue inside the abdomen to dissolve substances (electrolytes, glucose and other small molecules) from the blood. Fluid is introduced through a permanent tube in the abdomen and is flushed out either every night while the patient sleeps (automatic peritoneal dialysis) or during regular exchanges throughout the day (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis). PD is less common than hemodialysis because not every patient is a candidate for PD. The primary complication with PD is a risk of infection because of the permanent tube in the abdomen.
Kidney transplantation is indicated by end-stage renal disease. The transplant is from either a deceased or living donor. Potential living donors are evaluated on their physical health to ensure there will be no risk to either the donor or recipient. In Minnesota, more than 1,800 patients are waiting for a kidney transplant.