Dialysis patient Paula Lourenço shows how it is possible to lead an active and independent life combining work, family and leisure time despite being diagnosed with kidney disease, thanks to home hemodialysis.
Sometimes, when Paula Lourenço strolls along the seaside with her partner, her thoughts drift to the distant shores of Africa. She pictures lions, wildebeests and giraffes running free through the open savannah. Her biggest dream is to go on safari in Kenya. But at the moment that is out of the question, because she has been back on dialysis for the past years. Under such circumstances, Africa is simply too far away.
Yet Paula Lourenço has managed to create an exceptional degree of freedom for herself. For example, she continues to work full-time as an assistant at the ist School of Engineering in Lisbon despite dialysis. Her job involves placing orders with suppliers and overseeing contracts. It carries a lot of responsibility, and after 18 years her knowledge is hard to replace. That also means that her working days can be long.But Paula Lourenço is also flexible in her spare time and makes sure that she has time for things she enjoys doing, such as cooking, jigsaw puzzles or swimming. On the weekends, she even drives all the way out to the Alentejo region with her partner, where she owns a farm and tends the garden. And soon she would like to spend time learning the difficult art of Arraiolos rug-making, a tradition brought over by the Moors, which is highly valued in Portugal.
Paula Lourenço can only do these things because she has opted for home hemodialysis. She does not have to go to a clinic during the day at fixed times three times a week, but can incorporate the dialysis treatment more flexibly into her daily life. “Instead of watching television in the living room in the evenings, I just do it in my dialysis room,” she says. Since her four-month training program on home hemodialysis, Paula Lourenço has already completed around 500 home dialysis sessions. Her partner assists her in this. “Without him, I wouldn’t be able to do dialysis treatment at home,” she concedes. Fortunately, they have enough space to set up a dedicated sterile room that is large enough for the dialysis machine.
You have to be very responsible and sensible to do this type of treatment.
The solution is ideally suited to her private and professional life. It’s easy for her to muster the necessary discipline for her diet, weight and fluid control because she has done it all her life. She was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was just seven years old. From the age of twelve, she underwent various forms of dialysis until receiving a donor kidney when she was 18. She was able to live with it for 21 years. Now she is back on the transplant list. If you ask Paula Lourenço what she dreams of, she doesn’t have to think twice: “A safari in Africa would be great.”