If it's been a long time between vacations, you might feel as though you are chained to work and home responsibilities. For the 300,000 Americans who suffer kidney failure and need dialysis, that tethered feeling is a reality: Without blood-cleansing treatments, they can't survive.
But that doesn't mean they can't take a vacation. In fact, it's encouraged, as long as a dialysis patient is in stable health and other health issues are under control, says Dr. Leslie Spry, a nephrologist in Lincoln, Neb., and a spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation, based in New York.
It's not simple to arrange dialysis while traveling, but it's easier than it used to be, particularly in this country.
"The number of [dialysis] centers certainly has increased, and most people can travel just about anyplace," Spry says.
Dialysis patients or personnel at their home dialysis center can scout out centers based on destination. Or patients can take package tours or cruises that arrange for dialysis services; some even provide an on-call kidney specialist and a team of nurses.
Traveling dialysis patients on Medicare can find Medicare-certified centers at medicare. gov. Medicare certification is an indication of quality, Spry says.
Among commercial Web sites that have directories of dialysis centers: Dialysis Finder, 866-889-6019, dialysisfinder. com, lists centers in the United States; the Britain-based Global Dialysis, globaldialy sis.com, lists centers in other countries.
If you are setting up your own dialysis treatments, ask when the clinic is open and what times are available for an appointment. Travelers sometimes are given less-than-ideal appointment schedules, which may end as late as 2 a.m., according to the National Kidney Foundation.
"Passengers can book a cruise and dialysis through us," says Steve Debroux, president and owner of Dialysis at Sea Cruises, 800-544-7604, dialy sisatsea.com, a Clearwater, Fla.-based company that provides dialysis services aboard cruise ships.
Each treatment offered on Dialysis at Sea cruises is about $525.
Kathleen Doheny is a freelance writer for the Los Angeles Times.