News & Events

Dialysis Patients & Emergency or Urgent Care

If you have a life-threatening illness call 911. If you suspect that your illness is serious and related to your kidney health, call 911 or go to the emergency room at your dialysis hospital. Always tell the health-care team: that you have kidney disease, you are a dialysis patient and what type of dialysis you use. If possible, take a list of your medications with you or have someone bring it later on.

Baby Steps to Big Gains – How an Exercise Class for People with Kidney Disease is Changing Lives

For almost three years Gordon Thurston has been receiving dialysis three times a week. Before his kidneys failed, exercise was never a priority but when he heard about an exercise class for dialysis patients, he decided to try it.

“This Lean Keen Kidney Machine program – it’s helped me a lot.” Thurston says he has seen significant benefits since starting to exercise about two years ago.

“I am almost at the point of getting rid of the walker. I used to able to walk maybe five to ten feet and now I can walk a block without the walker which is pretty good.”

Lean Keen Kidney Machines (LKKM) is a Winnipeg-based exercise program designed for people on dialysis or living with kidney disease. It is run by Manitoba Renal Program with both The Wellness Institute and Reh-Fit Centre.

“Lean Keen Kidney Machines was started in an effort to get more people with kidney disease exercising and have them feel confident in their ability to exercise so they could become life-long exercisers and increase their level of activity,” explains Dr. Clara Bohm, nephrologist with Manitoba Renal Program and medical lead for the program’s Exercise and Wellness Initiative.

“The goal is improving physical function and well-being.”

In a recent program evaluation people with low levels of physical function who attended LKKM were approximately two times more likely to have an improvement in their physical function after one year as compared to a control group of individuals with kidney disease and low physical function who did not attend LKKM classes. As well, a higher proportion of those who attended LKKM were exercising regularly at one year as compared to the control group.

Bohm is excited about the outcome and is continuing with additional research around the benefits of physical activity for people with kidney disease and people who receive dialysis.

She says while some smaller studies have shown exercise can help protect kidney function and prevent decline for those with earlier stages of kidney disease, more research is needed to know long-term impacts.

Current evidence shows benefits from exercise can include improved mobility and strength, reduced blood pressure and improved quality of life. For hemodialysis patients additional benefits can include better quality of dialysis treatment (improved clearance of certain wastes) as well as decreased need for blood pressure medications.

The LKMM program runs for ten weeks and is an introduction to physical activity with both education and exercise classes.

“What we were finding is that people were uncertain about how to exercise or even if they could exercise,” she explains. The program features everything from presenters on nutrition and medications to talking about precautions for patients with kidney disease. The program also walks participants through exercises in a gym setting.

Thurston says that as a beginner to exercise he liked the pace of the program and how an expert was available to teach and support them. He says starting slowly and increasing exercise over time helped ensure he didn’t become discouraged.

He says exercise has also made an impact on his mental health, particularly when he was newer to dialysis.

“It helps improve my outlook in my life too. Sometimes you get depressed at first and this really picks up your energy.”

He says more patients should try LKKM and involve more physical activity in their lives.

“Try it. Your life is going to be so much better.”

The next LKKM sessions starts September 28 and 29. Find out more by clicking here.


Barry Marks 25 Years on Hemodialysis

Sitting in a Seven Oaks General Hospital (SOGH) hemodialysis unit, Barry Kiriluk receives his routine dialysis treatment. Today marks 25 years of being on hemodialysis for the born-and-raised Winnipegger.

Kiriluk started emergency hemodialysis at St. Boniface Hospital back in 1992. He had a failed attempt at peritoneal dialysis and also a failed transplant. He says diabetes is what led him to become sick.

“Before I started dialysis I never looked after my diabetes or my blood sugar,” he admits. When he was a teenager he had doctors telling him what would happen if he didn’t watch his blood sugar. One doctor even took him to a Health Sciences Centre dialysis unit telling him this is where he could end up.

Kiriluk says he didn’t listen and by the time he was 28 his kidneys were failing and he needed to start dialysis. He had to give up the milk delivery route he owned and move back in with family to get a hold of his failing health.

“In a way being on dialysis actually saved me.”

He remembers having to dialyze for several days in a row when he first started, to remove all the fluid that had built up in his system.

“And that was the worst thing to have ever done,” he remembers.  “I felt awful.” He quickly learned how to manage his liquid intake to feel better. Today he has a pretty good sense of his body when it comes to fluids and blood pressure. He even knows how to gauge how hot weather and sweating affects his fluid levels.

“I can feel when something’s not right.”

He’s thankful for the nurses and the doctors who have helped him along the way. He says listening to his care providers was critical in finding ways to feel better and make his treatments easier.

He says he is happy to do whatever it takes to be alive. A few years ago he had to switch to daily hemodialysis, instead of three times a week, because of calcium build up which can be a side effect of long-term dialysis.

He participates in the cycling on dialysis program every day and enjoys cooking his meals with fresh foods. He likes being outside in nice weather and watches lots of hockey in the winter.

After ten years of dialysis at St. Boniface Hospital, Kiriluk was one of the first patients to dialyze at a brand-new SOGH dialysis unit. “At that time there was maybe like ten people in the unit and they weren’t open every day.”

Today Seven Oaks General Hospital houses about 300 in-centre hemodialysis patients and there are more than 1,600 dialysis patients in Manitoba.

From Sick to Fit – How One Dialysis Nurse Turned His Health Around

Meet your MRP: Jaynor Kahal, RN, SOGH Dialysis

Jaynor Kahal was working as a nurse in a Seven Oaks General Hospital (SOGH) dialysis unit when he started to feel dizzy and unwell. He asked a coworker to take his blood pressure and discovered his numbers were sky high. He was admitted to emergency where he recouped and later on he was prescribed blood pressure medication by his family doctor.

“I was 30 years old and already on that,” he recalls.

 With a family history of diabetes and hypertension, Kahal knew he needed to make a big change.

“My doctor told me, ‘yeah you can reverse it if you become healthy’.” Kahal says he was overweight but keen to feel better and avoid more health issues.

Picture of Jaynor in Zumba post on mat in gym“I got into Zumba by accident,” he says of what has become a three-year love affair with all things Zumba. He is now a certified Zumba instructor, on top of being a full-time dialysis nurse.

“I actually changed my body a lot. My physique is totally different. I’m off of my blood pressure pills for six, seven months now.”

Kahal teaches three classes a week and plans to add two more. His Sunday class is often full of the dialysis nurses he works alongside the rest of the week. He says he has seen major physical changes in some coworkers who have taken on his class.

“I am so proud of them.”

Recently Kahal was the only instructor chosen to represent Manitoba on a Zumba Canadian tour which took him to Ontario, the Maritimes, Quebec and New York. He also went to a Zumba convention in Florida where he was asked to return next year as an international presenter.

While his passion for Zumba continues to grow, Kahal says he won’t be leaving dialysis nursing any time soon.

“It’s the longest time I have spent in one unit and have no intention of moving because I just love it.”

His nursing journey started when he finished school in the Philippines in 2005. By 2009 he was a head nurse but needed to look for other opportunities.

“I was making only $300 Canadian dollars a month. This is not enough for me to support myself and help out my brothers and sisters who are in school.”

He passed up a nursing opportunity in Dubai to come to Manitoba, knowing that he could build a life in Canada.

“I don’t have any family here. I am by myself here in Manitoba and Canada.” When he came to Manitoba, Kahal spent time working as an emergency room nurse in Minnedosa. He remembers a serious accident near the town where a single vehicle crashed with seven passengers inside. Kahal was the only nurse on shift in the ER when he got the call that ambulances were on their way.

“I ended up calling code orange. There is such a thing as code orange in small towns – to call all the nurses to come help out.”

Kahal spent over two years in the town and that’s when he first dabbled in exercise.

“There is nothing else to do but run. I became healthy – more fit.” He found himself travelling to Winnipeg  to visit friends and decided to move. He worked at Grace Hospital before eventually moving to SOGH.

The move to Winnipeg had Kahal setting aside exercise for time with friends. This is when he gained weight back and found himself with climbing blood pressure on the unit one day.

Several years later he feels great and is excited about his plans to teach more Zumba classes and continue helping others to get in shape.

Visit Jaynor’s Facebook page: Z FORCE Fitness by Zin Jaynor Kahal

Fall Kidney Disease Exercise Class

The fall session of Lean Keen Kidney Machines is coming up. This is a great way to meet new people and start incorporating more fitness into your life. You will also have access to a fitness professional to help you learn about exercising while living with kidney disease. Sessions start at the end of September. Learn more here.

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