For many people, dialysis and transplantation not only extend their life but improve the quality of their life. For others who may have serious ailments in addition to kidney failure, dialysis may seem like an extra burden that only prolongs their suffering. You have the right to refuse treatment or withdraw from treatment. It is important to discuss this option carefully with your doctor so that you can receive complete information about what choosing no treatment would mean for you. You may also want to speak with your spouse, family, or religious counselor as you make this decision.
If you decide not to begin treatment or to withdraw from treatment, you may live for several days to several weeks depending on your overall health and how much kidney function you have left. Your doctor can give you special medication that can make you more comfortable during this time. You may start treatment at any time if you change your mind about refusing or withdrawing from treatment. Your doctor may offer an opinion as to whether treatment would benefit you significantly. Sometimes it may not be clear if the benefits will outweigh the burdens. If you are having a difficult time making this important decision, your doctor may recommend that you start treatment for a trial period. During and after the trial period, you and your doctor will evaluate how you are doing. Based on these evaluations, your doctor will speak with you about whether dialysis is helping, but the final decision about starting or continuing treatment still remains with you.
For more information, speak to your doctor. To read more about the no treatment option, you can view: “If you choose not to start treatment” available from the National Kidney Foundation. It can also be downloaded from the following website: