I often get asked how to go for international holidays while on dialysis. It is not as difficult as you might think. The key is to plan early. Few months in advance is always a good idea.
To begin with, once you’ve decided where to go and the rough dates, the next thing to do is to figure out a dialysis centre. I usually use Global Dialysis to do this. Type your destination in the search field and it will show you dialysis centres close to that location. It will also give you a clickable list of centres with distance from your location.
Spend some time on this list and click on each centre that is at a reasonable distance from your location and read the information about the centre like timings, facilities offered, reviews (very important to see if people liked the services) and so on.
Once you have picked a centre, send them an email with your dates and ask if they will be able to accommodate you. Typically most places are accommodating of holiday dialysis patients. Each centre has its own set of documents needed for dialysis. They will usually be a range of blood tests and prescriptions that would be needed. You can email or fax them to the centre depending on the mode they prefer. I find email the easiest way to communicate. Sometimes you would need to send another set of blood test reports a few days before your travel dates. Always carry a printed copy of all these tests, prescriptions, everything you’ve sent along with you.
After a dialysis session at a centre in Seattle, USA
Remember that not all dialysis centres will have English speaking staff so if you need to call for whatever reason, be very patient. Keep a record of the contact numbers with you and the name of the person you’ve been in touch with. Call a day before your session to confirm your slot.
Every centre has their own protocol for dialysis which may be different from yours. So if you need anything apart from the ordinary, take it with you. For example, I am used to buttonhole needles. I took them with me. I also asked to allow to self-cannulate and all places agreed. Some people are used to lignocaine. If so, take a vial with you.
In the US, the dialysis centres do not provide blankets and pillows. You have to take them with you as the centres can be cold.
There are several very good destinations around the world which you can explore even if you’re on dialysis.
I love the idea of going on a cruise. There are several cruises that have a dialysis facility on board. They have dialysis staff and even a nephrologist on board. You can check out www.dialysisatsea.com and www.cruisedialysis.co.uk for options.
Aboard a cruise ship in Alaska
The cost of dialysis in most international locations is much more than a session in India. So, remember to find out upfront about the cost and also find out the payment options - whether they accept credit cards or need cash etc. and be prepared with this. Most insurance companies will not reimburse the cost of dialysis abroad.
Many centres (especially in the US) will confirm dates but not let you know the time of your session until the week before your session. So, better to avoid travel on the dialysis days.
International travel is very exciting for those who can afford it. It not only gives you a chance to see lovely places, it also gives you an insight into dialysis services in other countries.
Do try out a trip if you are able to and let me know how it went. All the best!
P.S. Thanks Ms. Astha Tandon, a guest from NephroPlus who urged me to blog about this.