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Dialysis more comfortable with Lady by her side

When 28-year-old Frankston South resident Elle Heuch’s kidneys started to fail last year she spent two weeks extremely unwell in hospital and was started on dialysis, a treatment she now has three times a week.

“I have type 1 diabetes so that caused my kidney failure,” explains Elle, who works in childcare.

“I’d had kidney disease for about four years when my kidneys started to fail in May last year. It was terrifying, the scariest thing that has happened to me and a lot of things have happened in my life.”

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to adequately remove waste from your blood and control the level of fluid in your body.

Elle now has dialysis at Frankston Haemodialysis Unit three nights a week, to artificially remove the waste from her blood.

“I haven’t had the easiest time on dialysis, I used to get side effects like migraines, though the symptoms have cleared up a lot after adjustments to my treatment.”

“Having dialysis also caused my anxiety to go pretty high.”

To help with this, last year Elle’s family and friends raised money for Elle to get her own Assistance Dog, Lady.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lady, accompanies Elle to dialysis and all of her medical appointments.

“Dogs can smell the stress pheromones that humans release. When I’m having an anxiety attack Lady jumps on my lap and sits there and won’t get off until I physically stand up.”

“She’s very calming,” says Elle, who is a big Disney fan. “That’s where I got the name from, Lady and the Tramp.”

As well as Lady, Elle says the staff at Peninsula Health have also been a big support to her.

“The care is amazing, everyone is really lovely.”

“They know that you aren’t always going to be having a good day. When you are having your bad days they are really great.”

Elle is on the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant.

“A transplant would mean that I won’t have to do dialysis and I also won’t have diabetes anymore which is what caused this problem in the first place,” explains Elle.

Donate Life Week is 28 July – 4 August, which encourages all Australians to talk to their family about organ donation, and register their wishes

Elle will continue training Lady, who recently celebrated her first birthday, to be a fully qualified assistance dog over the next year, while fitting in work, dialysis and saving for her first house with her partner.