Your First Visit

Our dialysis team members are experts at making you feel at ease. Still, it’s natural to have questions before your first appointment. Find out what’s involved so you can feel prepared.

Your first dialysis treatment

What to expect from your first dialysis session will depend on where you’ll be dialyzing and which type of dialysis you’ve chosen.


Dialysis in a center

Patients who dialyze at a Northwest Kidney Centers facility use hemodialysis. Your blood flows from an access point in your body to a machine, where it is filtered to remove toxins and extra fluid. The filtered blood then is returned to your body via the same access point. 

We ask you to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before your first treatment to take care of a few introductory tasks. 

  • Paperwork

You’ll need to complete a series of forms including a “consent for treatment,” which a member of our team will discuss with you.

  • Blood tests

We’ll draw your blood for a series of pre-treatment tests. One of these is an HIV test, which also requires your written permission.

  • Tour

A nurse will show you around the treatment area and show you the equipment. 

  • Process

You’ll meet your care team, and talk over your plan of care. When it’s time for your treatment, they’ll connect you to the dialysis machine via your fistula or graft.

  • Time

Your treatment will take three to five hours. 

Learn more about dialysis in a center


Dialysis at home

Northwest Kidney Centers has one of the largest home dialysis programs in the country. Patients can learn how to do peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis at home. If you’ve chosen to dialyze at home, you’ll train at a Northwest Kidney Centers location not far from your home.


Peritoneal dialysis

  • Location

Your first appointment will take place at our peritoneal training unit in our Seattle center, at 15th and Cherry. 

  • Process

You’ll be fitted with a PD catheter so that a cleansing fluid can be transferred into your abdomen to remove toxins and extra fluid. Once your catheter site has fully healed and you’ve completed our training program — usually five days — you may continue your treatments from home. 

  • Time
    • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD): 30-40 minutes, four times a day.
    • Automated peritoneal dialysis (APD): eight to 10 hours a day (usually takes place overnight, with one short exchange during the day).

→ Learn more about peritoneal dialysis


Home hemodialysis

  • Location

Your first appointment will be at the home hemodialysis training unit in our Seattle center, at 15th and Cherry. 

  • Process

At the first appointment, you’ll meet your care team and get acquainted with the NxStage machine, a lightweight machine designed for use at home. You’ll spend the next four weeks undergoing very thorough training — how to put in your own needles, and how to set up and take down the machine.

  • Time

Most people dialyze five or six times a week. Some dialyze during the day for about three hours at a time, and others dialyze for six to eight hours overnight.

→ Learn more about home hemodialysis

What to bring

  • Medicine Bring all the medicine you’re currently taking to your first visit. We keep a medication list for each patient and review the list with you each month. 
  • Comfy clothes Wear loose, washable clothes without buckles or buttons down the back. Patients often feel chilly as they dialyze, so consider bringing a blanket or wearing long underwear.
  • Light snacks Eating too much before dialysis makes some people feel ill, but light snacks are OK. If you have diabetes, speak with your doctor about healthy options.
  • Activities — In addition to our onsite TVs, you can bring items to keep you entertained, like books, crossword puzzles, iPods and tablets (we provide free Wi-Fi). Just make sure to bring your own headphones. 
  • Friend, family member or caregiver — Feel free to bring someone to keep you company during treatment. First visits are a good time for caregivers to receive training. It’s also best to have someone drive you home after your first dialysis treatment. Speak to your social worker if you have a problem arranging a ride.