Mediclinic Renal Services is committed to investing in various programmes aimed at improving our patients’ quality of life.

Understand your kidneys better

What are the causes of kidney failure?

The two main causes of Chronic Kidney Disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes develops when your blood sugar is too high, which can cause damage to organs, these include the kidneys and heart as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. Hypertension is a condition in which

the pressure of the blood against the artery walls increases. If uncontrolled or poorly managed, high blood pressure can cause kidney damage, heart attacks and strokes.

What is the function of kidneys?

  • Regulating fluid balance in the body
  • Restoring the body’s acid levels or pH balance
  • Maintaining electrolyte concentrations like potassium, sodium and calcium
  • The excretion of waste products, toxins and excess fluid
  • The production of hormones vital for red blood cell production and blood pressure control

Final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) This is when your kidney function has declined to Stage 5. At this point, dialysis will have to be initiated. A rapid onset in loss of kidney function is called Acute Renal Failure (ARF). This is more prevalent in patients who are critically ill in hospital with unstable vitals. Chronic kidney failure refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. Symptoms may include swelling of the legs, weariness, vomiting, loss of appetite, and confusion. Complications of chronic kidney failure also include heart disease, high blood pressure and anaemia. Treatment of chronic failure may include haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or a kidney transplant.

A kidney transplant is considered the best treatment option for people facing kidney failure as it can increase your life expectancy as well as your quality of life.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is the treatment modality that performs the function normally performed by healthy and functioning kidneys. Filtration of waste products and extra fluid from the blood takes place during dialysis. There are two available dialysis treatment modalities: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

During haemodialysis treatment, your blood travels through dialysis blood lines to the filter, known as a dialyser, which is situated on the dialysis machine. The dialyser does the work of your kidneys and removes waste products and extra fluid from

the blood. This is called clearance, and can be understood as the quantity of waste products, toxins and fluid removed during each dialysis session.

The better the clearance, the higher quality dialysis you are receiving. The filtered blood travels back to your body through the blood lines. Prior to the onset of dialysis, your doctor will arrange for the creation of an access area for dialysis. The better the access, the better the filtration of your waste products, toxins and excess fluid will be.

In chronic patients, a fistula/graft or a vascular catheter is created. It is important to take care of the access sites in order to protect your quality of treatment and health and to make sure your access is viable for as long as possible.

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) is a treatment that uses the lining of your abdomen (belly area), called your peritoneum, to facilitate filtration of waste products and excess fluid from the blood. Dialysate is used to assist the peritoneum in filtering your blood. Dialysate absorbs waste

Diet and lifestyle changes

Although dialysis helps to perform some of the functions that your kidneys did when they were healthy, it still cannot completely compare to the quality of filtration of healthy kidneys. Between dialysis treatments, waste products and fluid will build up in your body. This makes it necessary to follow some dietary and fluid restrictions to help prevent excessive waste and fluid build-up in your blood.

Limit your intake of the following:

  • Potassium (bananas, spinach, avocados)
  • Phosphorus (cheese, milk, meat, cola) Fluids (water, tea, coffee)
  • Sodium (salt).

Other recommended measures include staying active and attending dialysis sessions as scheduled.

Frequently asked questions relating to dialysis

How long will I need dialysis?

Once you have been diagnosed with stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease, you will need dialysis for the rest of your life, or until you can receive

a kidney transplant.

Is dialysis expensive?

Yes. Fortunately, it is a prescribed minimum benefit (PMB), and medical aids cover the cost in full.

How long is a dialysis session?

A dialysis session lasts four hours and happens two to three times a week. Sessions can be scheduled to accommodate your timetable.

Can I choose between peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis?

Once you have been diagnosed, your nephrologist will discuss the best treatment option for you.

Will I be able to go on holiday?

Yes. Always inform your nephrologist and your team at Mediclinic Renal Services in advance for your treatment dates to be scheduled.

Is there a cure for Chronic Kidney Disease?

Currently, there is no cure for Chronic Kidney Disease. However, there are ways to effectively manage your disease. If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, it is important to have regular check-ups with your nephrologist and your renal team. With early diagnosis and treatment, you may be able to delay the progression of kidney disease as well as the progression to the point of dialysis treatment.

Will I be able to get a transplant?

Most patients are eligible for a kidney transplant. This option can be discussed with your nephrologist and renal team.

What other support is available to me?

For emotional support, patients can make use of available counselling services, patient support groups and the renal team. Open and transparent communication between patients and the renal team is very important.

Chronic Kidney Disease and subsequent treatment thereof is a chronic, long-term treatment modality. Mediclinic Renal Services addresses the need for value and easy access, and our specialised clinics are managed by a Medical Director and experienced staff, ensuring a patient-friendly environment. Your health is our priority. 


  1. Kidney failure/Esrd diet. 2020. Available from: kidney-failure/Esrd-diet (9 March 2020)
  2. Kidney failure. 2017. Available from: http:// www. (9 March 2020)
  3. Tisher, C. Wilcox C. 1995, Nephrology, 3rd Edt., Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore

Ensure you get the care you need; contact the Mediclinic Engagement Centre: