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Kidney Disease Treatment Options

Normally there is no cure for end stage kidney disease and each person affected must select from the treatment options below.

Transplant Options

Live Donor Transplant
A live donor transplant, occurs when a live person donates one of their kidneys to another person. A living donor can be a family member (immediate or extended family) or an unrelated person. Donor compatibility is established through blood tests that look for matching blood types and antigens. The overall health of the potential donor is also of critical importance.

Living Donor Paired Exchange
Living donor paired exchange occurs between patients with a willing but incompatible donor and other pairs in the same situation. While medically eligible to donate, each donor has an incompatible blood type or antigens to his or her intended recipient. By agreeing to exchange recipients-giving the kidney to an unknown, but compatible individual-the donors can provide two patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible. Visit Canadian Blood Services Organs and Tissue website for more information on the Living Donor Paired Exchange. 

Deceased Donor
Patients with end stage kidney disease who are transplant candidates and who do not have the option of a living donor transplant join the waiting list for a deceased donor. The majority of kidneys transplanted in Canada are from deceased donors.
For information on organ and tissue donation visit Legacy of Life Program.


Hemodialysis or “cleaning the blood” is performed by withdrawing blood from the body, with the help of a machine and passing the blood through an artificial kidney. A small amount of blood is cleaned at a time by taking out the waste and extra water and then returned to your body. 

Hemodialysis can be performed in three types of locations in Nova Scotia:

Home Hemodialysis 

Home hemodialysis has been available in Nova Scotia for over thirty-five years. This treatment option allows you to fit your dialysis around your schedule by performing it at home with support and back-up from a dialysis program. Home hemodialysis can be performed during the day or at night while you sleep. Learn more about home dialysis (PDF)

In-Centre Hemodialysis
In-Centre hemodialysis units are typically for those who cannot be treated in a satellite unit or by home dialysis. They typically provide hemodialysis for more complex patients that require additional medical and healthcare support.  In Nova Scotia, they are located in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sydney and Yarmouth. 

Satellite Hemodialysis
Satellite units provide hemodialysis care for individuals, who meet specific medical criteria, closer to home.  These units lessen the travel burden for many individuals in Nova Scotia. 

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis or PD has been available in Nova Scotia for over thirty years. PD uses a natural membrane in your abdomen to help clean wastes and excess water from your body. A tube is inserted into your abdomen, so that a solution can be instilled and drained regularly to clean your blood. Peritoneal dialysis can be performed during the day or at night while you sleep.

Conservative/Supportive Management 

Conservative management is a treatment option in which you will be provided medical and supportive care, both physical and emotional, if you decide to let the disease run its natural course. If you choose the conservative care treatment option, you and your family will work with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that honors your wishes, and helps you and your family obtain the support and comfort you need. For additional information see the Kidney Foundation of Canada brochure: Conservative Treatment: Choosing Not to Start Dialysis.

For information on kidney disease and treatment options see the Kidney Foundation of Canada: Living with Kidney Disease Manual.

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