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Taking dialysis on the road

Marysville’s Frank Gibson, left, discusses the details of the NxStage System One home dialysis machine with fellow Washington resident James Smith at the Puget Sound Kidney Center in Arlington on April 1. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville’s Frank Gibson, left, discusses the details of the NxStage System One home dialysis machine with fellow Washington resident James Smith at the Puget Sound Kidney Center in Arlington on April 1.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Portable machine gives new freedoms to those needing treatments

SMOKEY POINT — Marysville’s Frank Gibson feels like he’s gotten his life back after visiting the Puget Sound Kidney Center in Arlington.

Gibson, who served 20 years each in the military and on the police force, has been on dialysis for the past three months for which he visits the kidney center in the afternoons.

“The best is 4:30 or 5 p.m.,” Gibson said. “I don’t want to sleep away from my wife for the night.”

Gibson is putting out a book on his seven years of service in the international police, but part of his contract with his publisher involves personal appearances which would be a problem if he had to schedule dialysis appointments at available kidney centers at those locations. Fortunately for Gibson and other patients of the Puget Sound Kidney Center in Arlington, they now have an avenue to take their dialysis with them.

Fellow Washington resident James Smith toured kidney centers in his RV on April 1 to talk to patients about the NxStage System One home dialysis machine, which weighs 75 pounds and is portable enough that he can travel throughout the continental United States with it, even hitching it to the back of his motorcycle for road trips.

“I’ve been on dialysis for four years and the type of leukemia I have means I can’t get a transplant,” Smith said. “I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.”

Smith’s home dialysis machine nonetheless allows him to choose when he does his dialysis, and even gets transported for free on his airline flights, without counting against his baggage limit. Smith explained to Gibson that the training for the machine takes three to four weeks, “although as a retired bomb tech, you’ll probably pick it up quicker,” he laughed.

When Gibson asked if he and his wife could take a cruise ship vacation with the home dialysis machine, Smith informed him that NxStage System One owners often take cruises together, since they could borrow each other’s equipment if needed.

“If anything goes wrong, you’ll get replacements overnight in any of the 48 continental United States,” Smith said.

Jolyne Selvidge, home department manager of the Puget Sound Kidney Center in Arlington, noted that their next class covering home dialysis will kick off June 1 from 5-7:30 p.m. at 18828 Smokey Point Blvd. For more information, call them at 360-454-5280.

“It’s one thing to see a picture of the machine,” Gibson said. “It’s another to talk to someone while they’re having dialysis done. How fortunate we are to live in a day and age where such things are possible.”

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