People with yearly income of less than Rs 3 lakh would be given free dialysis treatment in Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced. She made the announcement while inaugurating the first-ever public-private partnership (PPP) model dialysis unit at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in north Delhi.

‘It gives me immense satisfaction to announce that people with income of less than Rs 3 lakh will be given free dialysis treatment and further 150 such dialysis machines will be installed in three other government hospitals,’ she said. Health Minister A.K. Walia said: ‘It is a very big moment for us. I had also gone to Hyderabad to study the system. As various kidney problems are rising in Delhi, this installation will help all those who come here.’  

For others, the dialysis would cost Rs 1,073 cheaper than the Rs 2,000 fee charged by private hospitals. ‘We have international standards for the dialysis procedure. Patients will witness a very high level of service in any government-owned facility,’ said DCDC Kidney Care managing director Aseem Garg.

What is dialysis?

 Kidney dialysis is a process that closely replicates the functions of a person’s kidneys. What it does is that it mimics the functions of the kidneys by removing excess water, salt and other toxic wastes from the body, by filtering one’s blood.

During dialysis a person is intravenously connected to a machine that takes blood from the person and passes it through a number of filters that are specific to particular toxins produced by the body. Once filtered, the blood is re-circulated into the person’s body, mimicking the function of their kidneys. This procedure is especially used for patients who have either fallen ill suddenly due to acute kidney failure, or those who are stable yet suffer from chronic kidney disease.

There are mainly two types of dialysis – haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Haemodialysis is where the patient’s blood is dialysed using a dialysis machine, and is usually done in the hospital. The second type is peritoneal dialysis where the blood is filtered inside a person’s body after his/her peritoneum (space between the abdomen and skin) is filled with a special cleaning solution.

The number of times a person has to get dialysis depends on the severity of his/her condition. In most cases people require one treatment per week. Each cycle takes approximately four hours.

Why is dialysis required?

Some of the main functions of the kidneys are to filter and eliminate waste from the body, dispose of excess fluid, help in the production of blood cells and produce certain hormones. When the kidneys don’t function efficiently, toxins that would normally be eliminated, tend to build up in a one’s body, leading to accumulation of excess fluid within the tissues (oedema), rise in his/her blood pressure and in severe cases even coma and death. Although dialysis cannot completely replace the kidneys – since it cannot help in the production of hormones or blood cells – it is a fair substitute. Therefore, in people with defunct kidneys, dialysis is an extremely important procedure.