Shoreline dad has twins - and kidney dialysis

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ryan and the twins who were 7 months old in this photo
They turn 1 on March 14 - World Kidney Day!

By Cynthia Flash

Imagine the joy of caring for twin toddlers – two sets of diapers, two napping routines, two energetic bodies exploring their world.

Now imagine being connected to a kidney dialysis machine four hours a day, five days a week – and still taking care of those little ones.

That’s the life of Shoreline resident Ryan Tibayan, a stay-at-home dad who cares for Kaila and Greyson, who will celebrate their first birthday March 14.

Ryan, a Blanchet High School graduate, developed diabetes in his 20s. As a result, he experienced kidney failure two years ago – requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival. He is on the transplant waitlist.

“We found out we were having twins at our first ultrasound,” he said. 
“At first I was freaked out, but then I was ecstatic because I never thought we could have kids with my health problems.”

The twins’ birthday this year falls on World Kidney Day – a time to help the world understand how to prevent and treat kidney disease.

Diabetes and heart disease are key contributors to chronic kidney disease, which now affects 850 million people worldwide and is the 11th leading cause of global mortality.

Rather than undergoing kidney dialysis at a clinic, Ryan instead does it at home. There he has more control over the time and frequency of the treatments that remove water and waste from his body. Ryan was trained to do home dialysis by a nurse at Northwest Kidney Centers. It allows him to set his own dialysis schedule – around his child-rearing duties.

“Northwest Kidney Centers makes the transition (to dialysis) so much easier. They offer tons of classes to get you more comfortable with the situation – to have an idea what to expect,” Ryan said. “They give you the ability to reach out to someone already on dialysis so you can talk to someone who is going through the same things you’re going through.”

Dialysis at home is “way better than having to leave my kids three days a week four hours at a time for in-center dialysis,” Ryan said. “It allows me to not miss anything in my kids’ life. It’s on my schedule so I can do it whenever there’s time, like if they’re taking a nap.” He’s also able to be around when the kids need to be fed.

“I feel like you don’t have to let kidney disease or dialysis run your life. You can lead a pretty normal life if you want to,” said Ryan, who left his job as a computer assistant to stay at home with the kids while his wife Nicole works as a manager at Best Buy. 
“But you have to have a really strong support system to do that. My kids give me extra motivation to continue doing dialysis and my wife, who does my needle punctures even while working full time, plays a big role in my everyday health.”

Kidney disease affects one in 10 people. Those at highest risk include anyone with diabetes or high blood pressure, those who have a relative with kidney disease, those who are overweight or over age 60, those who are of African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American or Hispanic descent.

Anyone who is at risk is encouraged to talk to their doctor and get tested. Kidney health tests are simple and inexpensive: a blood test, urinalysis and blood pressure measurement. Other ways to keep kidneys healthy are to reduce salt in your diet, avoid overusing over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, and to stay fit.

Find more information about kidney disease prevention and treatment here.


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