Health Watch: Preventing acute kidney failure

In about 20 percent of patients who come into a hospital intensive care unit, the kidneys suddenly lose the ability to eliminate waste and clean the blood, which can lead to permanent damage or death. Critical care specialists at one Florida hospital have implemented a new procedure for testing and treating acute kidney failure and it is saving lives.

The last thing Bonnie Corley remembers from last spring was doing some work in her yard.

"Next thing I heard was some kind of screaming and groaning, and she'd come out here and was rolling on the floor," said John Corley, Bonnie's husband.

An emergency crew raced Bonnie to the hospital, where her systems began to shut down. The next day, doctors put her on a ventilator to give her body a break. Critical care specialist at AdventHealth Waterman Louis Guzzi, MD, knew without immediate intervention, Bonnie's kidneys would be at risk.

Dr. Guzzi told Ivanhoe, "As I would say time for the kidneys is really money for the kidneys. I need to get those kidneys reprofused as soon as possible before they start shutting down."

Dr. Guzzi and his colleagues used a new approach to determine patient risk of acute kidney failure. First, they used a device called Flowtrack to measure fluids passing through the system. At the same time, a blood test called Nephrocheck lets doctors know if the kidneys are in trouble. Dr. Guzzi said the very early intervention is making a difference.

Dr. Guzzi said, "Our rate here was about 9.8, 9.9 percent renal failure. We're 2.1 right now."

After 30 days in a medically induced coma, doctors slowly brought Bonnie back.

"I missed my birthday, Mother's Day, my third son's birthday," said Bonnie.
Now, she's back to visit the medical team who treated her, as she continues to get stronger.

John said, "There's been some good things that's happened. We're closer. We spend more time together. I think you tell me you love me every once in a while."

Despite Bonnie's health scare, she no longer needs dialysis. Dr. Guzzi and his colleagues named the protocol after the hospital where they work, AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares, Florida. A paper on the success of the Waterman protocol was published in a major medical journal last year, and since that time, Dr. Guzzi said as many as two dozen other hospitals have begun using the Waterman protocol on their patients.

Contributors: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.
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