I will never forget my dad’s screams as I walked toward our car and found him bleeding badly from his dialysis access point.

We had left the dialysis clinic after his treatment and driven to the supermarket. I left my father in the car while I went in for a few minutes. Returning to the parking lot I heard him screaming for me.

Afraid of what could happen to him, I rushed him back to the clinic. A technician immediately came outside to stop his bleeding. I was extremely grateful for the technician’s help, but at the same time I wondered if this could have been avoided.

In the 12 years I cared for my mother and father during their dialysis treatments, I saw patients bleed out in their chairs, faint, and throw up regularly. I saw chairs stained with blood; patient care techs cleaning up machines that discharged fluids while trying to tend to other patients; and a steady stream of ambulances carrying away ill patients.

After years of getting treatment at an independent dialysis clinic, a change to their insurance policy meant that both of my parents had to move to a new clinic chain in a suburb outside Los Angeles. That’s when things got worse. They went from a clinic where the staff and patients felt like family to a clinic where it felt like they were just another body. After treatment they were quickly moved out of their chairs to make room for the next one. The differences were so sharp that my mom really struggled at her new clinic. After a few years at the new clinic she passed away from a stroke.

I often think about all of the patients I met while caring for my parents as they received dialysis. I remember the stories they shared with each other while they were waiting to start treatment. Just dealing with dialysis in your life is difficult—it changes everything from your physical stamina to your ability to work. It’s not right that on top of all that patients also have to deal with unnecessary stress because of how dangerous their clinics can be.

It makes me sad that this movement to fix dialysis didn’t exist when my parents were still alive. But that’s why I’m here – to fight in their place and for patients who are too weak or intimidated to fight – because I am not.

Share your story