Doctors begin to see kidney failure in some coronavirus patients

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Emergency room doctors say they are running into a new crisis as they struggle to treat patients with Covid-19 — a shortage of dialysis machines and supplies. Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

There’s now a higher demand for dialysis machinery because of the coronavirus. Doctors say they are seeing kidney failure in some COVID-19 patients. A man in Southwest Florida who underwent dialysis for a decade is now worried about what health professional are seeing in those with the virus.

While David Ortiz did not have COVID-19, he survived a kidney transplant, and he’s worried for others with kidney failure, patients who also have coronavirus.

Ortiz received a gift he waited almost a decade for in August, a new kidney. It’s one that’s served him well ever since.

“All my tests came back really great,” Ortiz said. “The kidney is doing really well.”

But now Ortiz is concerned about a group of COVID-19 patients experiencing the kidney failure he once struggled with.

“I just had my kidney transplant,” Ortiz said. “I can just imagine what those people are going through on the day to day.”

Dr. John Conrey with Associates in Nephrology says doctors are seeing several patients with kidney problems as they fight coronavirus.

“As many as 30% will develop acute kidney injury out of all of the ICU admissions,” Conrey said. “Of those, 50% of those cases will wind up requiring dialysis.”

Locally, hospitals have been able to manage the demand. But in markets such as New York and New Jersey with an influx of cases, dialysis equipment, fluid and filters are going fast.

“Whereas, one continuous dialysis machine might be set up for a single patient and run for 24 hours, what they’re having to do is accelerate the settings and rotate that machine between two beds,” Conrey said. “So they double the capacity of that resource.”

“It’s kinda nerve wracking,” Ortiz said. “Because, being someone who was on dialysis for over 10 years, it’s really scary.”

Though hospitals in hot spots are seeing a stretch in resources, Dr. Conrey says Southwest Florida should be fine. Conrey says outpatient dialysis facilities have still been able to serve routine dialysis patients. They have strict regulations to help protect those patients safe from the virus while they receive their treatments.

“Fortunately, in our market, we have not only been able to meet the needs of what we’ve seen, but we still have additional capacity if things get worse,” Conrey said.

MORE: New Covid-19 crisis hits ICUs as more patients need dialysis

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