A big change for more than a dozen Islanders who now have to travel to Halifax for help with peritoneal dialysis: starting this month, the service will be available at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
Peritoneal dialysis is another form of dialysis used to remove waste products and excess water from blood. The difference is blood is cleaned while still inside the body rather than in a machine as it using hemodialysis.
Since 1976, P.E.I. patients have had to travel to a home dialysis clinic in Halifax to have a catheter inserted in their abdomen, then several days of followup care and instruction.
"The addition of a peritoneal dialysis service is a historic step forward for the PEI Renal Program and I am very excited about the future of renal care on Prince Edward Island," said Dr. Derek Chaudhary, the program's medical director, in a written release Thursday.
'It cost-wise makes sense, and from a quality of life perspective — which sometimes in health care we skirt over — but it's important.' — Dr. Derek Chaudhary
Thirteen Islanders currently receive this kind of dialysis, which can be performed at home because it's less invasive.
This will allow more patients to receive effective renal therapy "in the comfort of their own homes with complete Island-based supports, and that our program can fully support Islanders living with kidney disease at any stage well into the future."
"I can't give you the year this will happen, but our goal, our hope is in the not-too-distant future, peritoneal dialysis will make up at least 30 per cent of our dialysis population," he added.
Peritoneal dialysis helps preserve a person's remaining kidney function, controls blood pressure and has fewer dietary and fluid restrictions than hemodialysis, according to the province.
The process allows people to enjoy greater independence and improved quality of life because they can take the treatment at home at a time of day convenient for them.
"It cost-wise makes sense, and from a quality-of-life perspective — which sometimes in health care we skirt over — but it's important, it also makes a big difference in our patients," Chaudhary said in an interview with CBC News.
While he didn't have an exact figure, Chaudhary said he believes repatriating peritoneal dialysis will save money, since it costs about half of what in-centre hemodialysis does.