Marcelo Lara has undergone dialysis four hours a day, three times a week for the last seven years.

“Honestly, you have no life,” Lara said.

The treatment can have side effects that make the process even longer.

“As soon as you’re done, you’re tired, you’re throwing up. You go to sleep for at least two hours,” Lara said.

But he’s about to gain some of that time back as Sanford Health’s first patient in Bismarck to be trained for home dialysis — meaning those treatments can be done at home, whenever it’s convenient.

“The week of the Fourth of July will be the last week I will be coming,” Lara said.

At Sanford Health in Bismarck, more than 100 dialysis patients could be candidates for the latest at-home treatments, previously only an option in Fargo.

Nurses like Angelique Bretz have been helping Lara learn the technology. She says all it takes is a clean area and an outlet to hook up the machine.

“It works just like in-center, but a lot more foolproof, easy for the patient to understand,” Bretz said.

Plus — patients can now travel with the system.

“It opens up almost a whole new world for them,” Bretz said.

Previously, dialysis disrupted holidays and vacations for Lara, but now he can finally go to a church camp and stay the entire time.

“Usually I have to go one day, drive back at 2 a.m., make it here to dialysis, where now I can just take my bags with me, it’ll be great,” Lara said.

Bretz says the home option will be especially useful for patients who don’t live in Bismarck and might spend hours driving just to get there.

“Dialysis can almost be a full-time job with the travel and the downtime afterwards. It’s exciting to see that patients can go on vacation and see family that they haven’t seen in years,” Bretz said.

So far, Bretz says several patients have expressed interest in the home treatments.

Even with the new option, patients will still have to come to the center at least once a month.