Doctors are warning that there is a looming shortage of emergency dialysis machines as hospitals struggle to manage the growing number of coronavirus patients with kidney failure, reports The New York Times. The news comes as hospitals are already suffering from a lack of ventilators and testing kits.
Though medical professionals had previously believed that the coronavirus mainly targeted the lungs and heart, new evidence has suggested that the disease can also shut down kidney function in a substantial number of infected individuals. As a result, many COVID-19 victims are in dire need of emergency dialysis treatment.
New estimates heralded by Dr. Alan Kliger, a nephrologist at Yale University School of Medicine, suggest that between 20 and 40 percent of all patients in intensive care units due to the coronavirus are concurrently suffering from kidney failure.
It is not only the machines that are in short supply. There is also a growing demand for the dialysis fluid and other supplies needed for the procedure, as well as nurses and doctors who are able to administer the treatment.
“The nephrologists in New York City are going slightly crazy making sure that everyone with kidney failure gets treatment,” said Dr. David Goldfarb, chief of nephrology at the New York campus of the New York Harbor VA Health Care System.
“We don’t want people to die of inadequate dialysis,” he added.
Goldfarb also noted that the scale of the dialysis crisis is uncharted territory.
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in terms of the number of people needing kidney replacement therapy,” he said.
The kidneys are essential for filtering toxins out of the body. During kidney failure, these toxins build up in the blood, and acute cases can cause death in a matter of hours.
A doctor who wished to maintain anonymity described the grim decisions faced by healthcare workers on the front lines due to the limited number of dialysis machines.
“You’re yelling at them. You’re telling them you don’t have a dialysis machine to give them. You hear the intensity and the desperation in the other person’s voice,” the doctor said.
“My job was hell,” the doctor added.
As a result of the dramatic increase in dialysis device requests, many suppliers are now reportedly instilling limits on the number of machines hospitals can order.
“The demand spike was so fast and so high,” said Lauren Russ, a spokeswoman for one of the biggest manufacturers.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can,” she added.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, new information about the deadly disease is constantly emerging. The Inquisitr recently summarized five newly discovered details about COVID-19, including information about potential vaccines and atypical symptoms.