Is life without renal replacement therapy possible?
First and foremost, you need to know that a long-term life without kidney function is not possible. A significant reduction in your quality of life can occur after only two or fewer weeks without your blood being cleaned by your kidneays or with renal replacement therapy.
Conservative (=palliative) therapy
If the kidneys are no longer able to perform adequately, life without kidney replacement therapy is also a possibility. This is then referred to as conservative or palliative therapy.
Living without dialysis or a kidney transplant means that you will not survive in the long term. However, survival time is difficult to predict.
If you are considering living without renal replacement therapy, your nephrologist will support you as much as possible from a medical point of view.
A diagnosis of renal failure requiring dialysis is a huge change in your life. At the end of the day, you alone decide how to deal with this diagnosis. You can decide not to have kidney replacement therapy or a kidney transplant. Since this decision is incompatible with life sooner or later, you need to make sure that you have received and understood all the necessary information. You also need to have spoken to a psychiatrist at least once.
What happens if I decide not to dialyze?
If you are completely educated and there is no "treatable" reason why you do not want a renal replacement therapy or a kidney transplant, your nephrologist and their team will support you in achieving the best possible quality of life in light of your personal decision. It's a fact that you will not survive without a renal replacement therapy. The average survival time is individually variable and unpredictable.
There may also be medical reasons why renal replacement therapy or a kidney transplant are not possible. If your nephrologist has discussed this with you, his or her whole team will work to ensure that you have the best possible quality of life.
Palliative therapy is more than just medicine
The decision to continue treatment without renal replacement therapy is called "conservative therapy." The term "palliative" comes here from the fact that pallium means coat in old Latin. This alternative to renal replacement therapies does not only include medical aspects, but also the emotional, social and spiritual support of a person.
Is conservative therapy recommended?
You should know that all those working in the medical and nursing fields will always advise you to undergo renal replacement therapy or receive a kidney transplant, if medically justifiable. Please always talk to your nephrologist, when considering palliative therapy so they can go over all possible options with you.
Palliative therapy means foregoing renal replacement therapy, even though a person cannot live without it in the long term
Since it is not possible to say exactly how long you will be able to survive this way, a whole series of informational interviews are necessary beforehand
Your dialysis team will always advise you to start a kidney replacement therapy or receive a transplant, rather than undergoing conservative therapy.