Peritoneal Dialysis Guidelines 

Think ahead - If you are on PD it takes some planning to make sure your treatment requirements go smoothly while you are away. Leave yourself plenty of time between starting the planning process and the time you would like to be away. Inevitably, more exotic locations often involve more planning and notice. As a general guide, you should allow a minimum of 3 months to make the necessary arrangements. A shorter amount of notice may be possible, depending on your destination.

Delivery of Supplies - Your dialysis fluid and ancillary supplies can be delivered to a wide range of destinations around the world. This will be arranged through the company who manufactures them, and your renal unit will help ensure this is co-ordinated for you.

  • The notice required for delivery can take up to 8 weeks for some destinations.
  • Make sure you call the destination 2 or 3 days before the departure date to check your supplies have arrived safely. Take the name of the person you speak to and ask where the supplies are being stored and where they will be when you arrive, especially if you are likely to arrive late at night or early in the morning when a skeleton staff may be on duty.
  • Make sure you know who to contact in case you find there are any bags or ancillary items missing when you arrive. This is extremely rare and, if it should occur, the company concerned will do whatever is necessary to get you what you need extremely urgently.

Organise assistance at ports, airports etc - If you tire easily or have problems with mobility, most airports now offer wheelchairs and/or chauffeured “buggies”, which will whisk you through check-in, the departure procedures and passport control in minutes. Ferry ports, railway stations and many special attractions also offer this type of assistance. You will need to book this in advance - your travel agent should be able to help you or you can simply ring direct to see what help is available and book your buggy.

Insurance for APD machines - None of the holiday insurance companies will provide cover for APD machines. It should usually be possible, however, to arrange cover through the insurance company you use to cover household contents.

Customs - Ask our doctor for a letter confirming that your APD machine and bags of fluid are for medical treatment. The letter should also state that the bags of fluid are not to be opened.

Electricity voltages - For any equipment, such as APD machines, check that the electricity voltage is compatible, and that you have the correct adapters for the plugs.

Exchanges during your journey - Always discuss your travel itinerary with your PD nurse, who will advise you on the most suitable exchange plan for your outward and return journeys.

If you need to carry out an exchange at the airport or port terminal, ask to use either the medical room or the St. John’s Ambulance treatment room for your exchange.

If your itinerary means you won’t have to carry out an exchange until you reach your destination, it is still advisable to carry one dialysis bag in your hand luggage in case there are delays.

Peritonitis - Avoid carrying out exchanges in unhygienic or cramped areas. Don’t take risks, you can catch up with your exchanges later in a safe, clean environment. Most people actually take more care with their exchanges when in a different environment, and the percentage of people who get peritonitis when on holiday is actually very small.

If in doubt, don't drain out - You can catch up with your exchanges later in a safe, clean environment.

Swimming - Swimming is possible for PD patients and a very good form of exercise. However, every renal unit has their own policy on what their patients should do regarding swimming and bathing. Check with them about swimming or any other sports you want to try while on holiday before you go.

Warming PD Fluid - A simple way to heat your PD bags is to use a soft cooler bag and one or two hot water bottles. Wrap the hot water bottles in a small towel to avoid overheating the fluid. Another way of warming the fluid is to leave it on the back ledge of a car (in summer).

  • DO NOT heat your bag in hot water because tap water is notorious for dangerous, infectious organisms.
  • DO NOT use a microwave because it can damage the plastic covering, caramelise the sugar in the fluid (which can damage the peritoneum) and heat the fluid unevenly.

Somewhere to hang your PD bag - Plastic over-door hooks are extremely useful when travelling and can be purchased from many household stores. Avoid hanging your bag on sharp hooks or nails as there is a danger of puncturing the bag.

Waste - make sure you know how you will dispose of waste - arrangements may need to be made with the nearest hospital or GP surgery.

Never leave waste behind in hotels or apartments - it is considered a health hazard and may deter the proprietors from accommodating PD travellers in the future.

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The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only.

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