Stopping Dialysis

Answering Questions About Stopping Dialysis

Making health decisions can be quite difficult, especially when they deal with stopping dialysis. Since the main purpose of dialysis is to extend the life of a person suffering from kidney failure, stopping dialysis almost certainly means that the life of that person will come to an end in the near future. In fact, a person with stage 5 kidney disease (or end stage renal disease), will probably live just a few weeks without the life-sustaining dialysis or having a kidney transplant.


First and foremost, all of the facts about stopping dialysis must be revealed so that the family can make a thoroughly informed decision. Stopping dialysis is a highly sensitive and personal matter, and it cannot be decided upon lightly or without making thorough and tough considerations. A family meeting with the doctor can be quite helpful when making any difficult medical decision. Having everyone together in one place enables all questions and concerns to be brought out into the open, and allows the doctor to fully inform the patient and family of the options available and what stopping treatment will mean in the long term.

There may be times when the patient and their family disagree on whether or not to stop treatment. It is not uncommon for a patient with failing kidneys to be ready to end the treatment – despite the fact that they know the consequences would almost certainly mean death. And this is exactly why family members do not want the treatment to end. Oftentimes, a person with a terminal illness will come to terms with the fact that they will likely not recover, but it is much more difficult for their family and friends to let go.


There are a number of reasons why someone with a terminal illness like kidney disease will not want to start or decide to discontinue the treatment required to lengthen their life expectancy. Treatment for kidney disease and kidney failure can be extremely difficult to endure. There are two types of dialysis, and neither option is convenient or easy. Hemodialysis requires that the patient have an access placement and it is administered 3 times every week with no break, while peritoneal dialysis treatment is administered every day. There is really no end in sight when it comes to treatment for kidney disease, unless a kidney transplant is an option.

Sometimes, a terminally ill patient will reach their limit and just want to live out the rest of their life without being poked and prodded every day. Life can be very difficult when having to undergo serious medical treatments on a daily or nearly daily basis. It can cause a great deal of stress – on both the patient and their family members – to continue this way of life for any extended period of time. While some patients take it in stride and try to live as normally as possible, others feel that they have lived a full life and are not willing to continuously undergo the discomfort and stress of treatment.

The most important thing to remember when making a decision about stopping dialysis is that it is 100 percent up to the patient. It is important that family members and friends be as supportive as possible during this time and pursue the best possible care for the patient as they enter into the final phase of their life. The doctor can usually recommend wonderful hospice programs that will help both the patient and their support team get through the last weeks and days. It is vital during this time to make the most of each moment, because every one is precious.