Traveling with confidence while on dialysis

(BPT) – If you’d like to join your grandkids as they experience a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, hope to make this year’s family reunion or need to travel for work, there’s no reason you can’t – even if you’re on dialysis, a life-sustaining treatment that cleans the blood of toxins in those people whose kidneys have failed. Those living on dialysis require the treatment three times a week for three to four hours at each visit. With a little preparation, you can continue to get the care you need when you’re away from home so you can continue to live the life you want.

‘People with kidney disease can enjoy a high quality of life that includes travel,’ said Kosta Arvanitis, vice president of patient admission services for Fresenius Kidney Care, which includes travel services. ‘By planning ahead, dialysis patients can travel freely – even internationally – and stay with their treatment schedule for optimal health.’

To ensure your dialysis care goes smoothly, Fresenius Kidney Care recommends these tips:

Plan Ahead: Well in advance of your trip – ideally at least 30 days before you leave – talk to your dialysis nurse or social worker about your plans so your treatment center can pave the way to ensure uninterrupted kidney dialysis treatment and care. They will alert a travel services liaison who will:

* Reach out to the center nearest your destination that can accommodate your dialysis schedule and set up the necessary treatments. If you know of specific times you will have plans – say, an evening wedding or afternoon tea – be sure to let your liaison know. Two weeks before your trip, your liaison will confirm your dialysis schedule and location.

* Ensure the dialysis center you will visit has all of your medical records and laboratory results.

* Work with your insurance company to ensure continuity of coverage while you are away. Note that while you should be able to receive dialysis just about anywhere you choose to go – say you’re planning the trip of a lifetime to Australia – you may not have coverage if you are leaving the country. This may also be true if you receive Medicaid and are traveling to a different state. If that is the case, your liaison will let you know what your anticipated out-of-pocket financial responsibility will be.

* Send you a letter confirming your schedule prior to your departure.

Don’t forget identification and contact information: Bring your photo ID and insurance card to your dialysis appointment at the travel-destination center. Be sure to travel with a list of all your important phone numbers and emails, including your doctor, social worker and the dialysis center you will visit, as well as your emergency contact information.

Pack extra medication: Things happen – luggage gets lost, stays get extended – so it’s a good idea to pack extra doses of all your medications when you’re traveling, whether for your kidney disease or other conditions. Also, be sure to bring a list of all your medications and prescribed doses.

Anticipate your splurge meal: Food and travel often go hand in hand. It’s important to choose the right foods and drinks to help you feel your best. Talk with your dietitian, who can help you find kidney-friendly food whether you’re at a fancy restaurant, a family barbecue or a client dinner. Throughout your trip, keep your sodium intake to under 1,500 mg/day, don’t add table salt to your food, and eat plenty of low-potassium, kidney-friendly foods such as apples, blueberries, strawberries, cauliflower, cucumber and eggplant.

If you have a family emergency or something else that requires you to travel at the last minute, reach out to your dialysis treatment center right away. Your dialysis center will support you and do everything possible to ensure a smooth and safe trip.

If you have questions about traveling while receiving dialysis, contact Fresenius Kidney Care Patient Travel Services at 1-866-434-2597 or find out more online at

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