Having excess body water is not a pleasant thing. You feel bloated, your skin is tight, and you have trouble breathing. It’s a big problem for people with kidney failure. Dialysis helps remove the excess fluid and toxins that accumulate in the body when the kidneys fail. But even with dialysis a person can gain up to 12 pounds of water between treatments.
The first dialysis machine was invented back in the forties. There was a shortage of materials because of the war, so the inventor used sausage casings and soda cans to build the machine. The first patient using it died. But later attempts were successful. Now, many lives are saved because of the machine.
But there are other conditions that cause excess fluid retention in the body besides kidney failure. Congestive heart failure is one of them. It can cause so much fluid retention, or edema, that the skin can actually burst open. But now there is a treatment for the excess water retention that comes with congestive heart failure. It’s called aquapheresis. And like dialysis, it involves being hooked up to a machine.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
William Tracy, 77, has congestive heart failure. He was swollen up like a balloon. He was also suffering from shortness of breath and all that water weight was putting excess strain on his already overburdened heart. His doctor told him to go to St. John’s Hospital, one of only three hospitals in the area to have an aquapheresis machine.
“Eight hours later, Tracy said, the swelling and shortness of breath began to subside noticeably. By noon the next day ‘” 24 hours after being admitted to St. John’s ‘” he’d lost 20 pounds in water weight and was feeling fine. He was disconnected from the aquapheresis machine and discharged.”
The machine has only been in use about 2 years now. In order to qualify patients must be at least 10 pounds over their normal or “dry” weight and not responding well to diuretics. The use of the machine has increased exponentially over the past year.
The aquapheresis machine is a lot like a dialysis machine but doesn’t require a central access point which is surgery where a catheter or a fistula is inserted. A fistula is where an artery and a vein are joined together and takes many weeks to heal. The aquapheresis machine is more portable and easier to use than a dialysis machine which is what was used to take off excess water before.