Frustrating Questions Researchers Try to Answer About the Lifespan of Patients on Dialysis

Some entrepreneurs focus on helping the public with medical research and funding for that research. Jim Plante, for instance, has founded several companies devoted to raising money for important endeavors that include preventing and treating chronic diseases, research into genetic testing and therapies, and raising capital for these goals. End-stage kidney disease is a primary example of a serious chronic illness affecting a large number of people.

End-stage renal disease patients typically begin dialysis when their doctors say it’s time and then wait for a transplant. Kidney disease puts a person at greater risk of heart disease and other health problems. In addition, the requirement of a very restricted diet plan can be frustrating. Having to go to a clinic for dialysis three times a week is inconvenient, and the patient may not feel very well afterward.

Average Life Expectancy

Because of the shortage of donors, patients usually wait for years, and many never receive a kidney. The average life expectancy for a dialysis patient is between five and 10 years. Younger patients without other health problems are more likely to live between 20 or more years while receiving this treatment. Elderly patients who start dialysis in an intensive care unit tend to do poorly compared with those who begin the treatment without the need for intensive care.

A Specific Example

A patient in his or her mid-50s who begins dialysis is only expected to live between three to five years. The life expectancy goes down the older a person is when beginning the treatment. This can be scary and troubling, especially since a 55-year-old who receives a transplant has a good chance at living for another 15 years, without the hassle of dialysis.

Frustrating Questions

Researchers and medical professionals have expressed frustration because the question of factors affecting the lifespan for patients with chronic renal failure has been so hard to answer. For instance, it seems that people on dialysis should live longer than they do on average. When small businesses get involved in the study of how to use genetics to prevent and treat this type of disease, clearer answers should be discovered.