Dialysis patients and caregivers launch education campaign underscoring life-sustaining nature of dialysis treatment

January 24, 2019

Effort urges California lawmakers to protect access to the dialysis care patients need to stay alive

SACRAMENTO – The California Dialysis Council today launched a digital education campaign, “Dialysis is Life Support,” featuring patient testimonials underscoring that dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment for patients living with kidney failure. The campaign features videos of Californians with kidney failure who require regular dialysis treatments to survive. These patients discuss their lives, their experiences on dialysis, and stress how important it is to preserve patient access to their community dialysis clinics.

Over the past two years, special interests proposed public policy measures—including state legislation and a statewide ballot measure—that would have jeopardized patient access to care – putting patient lives at risk. This education campaign is intended to remind state lawmakers and others about the critical importance of protecting dialysis patient access to care.

“Dialysis is a godsend for me. Without it, I would have been dead three years ago,” said patient Sally Hernandez from Napa. “I love my clinic, I love the people that work there. They’re gentle, they’re kind, they’re caring. If our center closed, the impact would be overwhelming. Thousands of us dialysis patients would be thrown out into the cold.”

Marine veteran Jesus Barrios from Los Angeles said that he had to quit working when he was diagnosed with kidney failure, “Your legs start swelling up, your arms start swelling, your face swells up, you feel fatigued all the time. That’s what I was going through. I felt like my life was over. Now that I’m going through dialysis, I feel a lot better. I love going to the dialysis center, they make me feel at home. If they close the clinic where I’m at, it’s going to be very difficult for me. My life would be impossible to live.”

“Skipping a day from dialysis is playing Russian Roulette,” said Sherman Oaks dialysis patient DeWayne Cox in his video interview. “Most people have no idea what dialysis is or what dialysis patients go through. I need dialysis to stay alive. My clinic is like my lifeline. So if clinics close, my life is in danger.”

Dialysis patients must get dialysis three times a week, for three to four hours at a time, to stay alive. The process of dialysis, removing toxins and fluid build-up, is so critical that missing just one treatment increases patient risk of death by 30 percent.

Special interests in Sacramento have pursued unsuccessful legislation and ballot measures the past two years that would have jeopardized patient access to care. Most recently United Healthcare Workers West union (UHW) funded Proposition 8 (Prop 8) on the November 2018 ballot. UHW is using the threat of punitive ballot measures and legislation as leverage in their attempts to unionize workers. While unions have a right to organize workers, it’s shameful to use dialysis patients as pawns to further their political agenda.  That’s why more than 160 organizations, as well as every editorial board in the state, opposed Prop 8. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop 8 by 20 points.

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