For Darren Turner, everything seemed to happen at once. After experiencing some heartburn and visiting his family doctor, he ended up in hospital having arteries stented. The next day the doctor told him an ultrasound showed a mass on one of Turner’s kidneys and it was likely cancer.
After a year of monitoring, the mass along with his kidney were removed and Turner was left with one kidney to rely on. Less than a year later that kidney was no longer performing and he needed to start dialysis.
“I just decided that if I could get into the home program from day one, I’d be better off,” Turner says. He started training on home hemodialysis in April of 2012 and has been dialyzing at home ever since.
Turner, now 48, credits his wife and kids with supporting through the transition.
“Devyn [his son] was helping me like a dirty shirt.” His daughter, only nine at the time, took a bit more time to get used to the new machine in the home. “It was a little more difficult for her to watch.”
In 2014, Turner was one of a handful of Manitoba Renal Program (MRP) patients who started trialling a new home hemodialysis machine.
“Being the geek and nerd that I am, I of course constantly research what’s going on.” He had heard of the NxStage machine and one day heard home hemodialysis nurses talking about it and was approached to try the machine at home.
“It was very easy to learn. It’s about one tenth as complicated as the Bellco,” he says, comparing the new machine to the one he previously used. “With the NxStage, my mother could run it and she has no technical abilities whatsoever. She doesn’t even know how to program her PVR yet.”
Turner says the benefits are numerous from the machine’s ease of use and limited need for water to a shorter set-up and tear-down time. It also requires less supplies which means less space needed in the home.
“I would tell anyone considering home dialysis that it’s one billion times better than the hospital because it’s on your own schedule.”
Turner still hopes for a transplant down the road and is approaching his fifth year of being cancer-free which he says is required to be a transplant candidate. “Transplant is the ultimate.”
He feels strongly about organ donation and wishes the province and Canada would implement stronger policies to improve organ donation rates. “People don’t understand the importance of organ donation. The transplant aspect of it changes people’s lives. There’s no doubt about it. My life would be ten times better in the sense of how I’d be feeling most of the time.”