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Kidney Disease
                                                                          — A Guide for Patients

        ERYTHROPOEITIN (EPO)                                  Your chemist will give you 4 or 5 vials, which you
        Patients with kidney disease very often have a low    will need to keep in the fridge (not the freezer).
        blood count. Under normal circumstances the           Your kidney nurse will either teach you how to
        kidney produces a substance called erythropoietin     administer the medication yourself or arrange a
        (EPO). EPO works on the bone marrow cells to make     district nurse or your GP practice nurse to
        more blood cells. EPO needs to be administered by     administer it. It is also possible to have your
        way of an injection. It cannot be taken as a tablet.  injection when you attend for dialysis.
        The injection may be given as an injection directly      It is important to stay on this medication until
        into the dialysis machine or as an injection into the  your doctor indicates otherwise. You will need
        skin. EPO can be administered either once, twice or   frequent blood tests to monitor the effectiveness
        three times a week or sometimes every second          of the EPO as too much EPO may cause your blood
        week or, even only once a month, depending on         to go too high or you may need to increase the dose
        your blood. Patients will feel much better on EPO     if you are not getting enough benefit. It is
        as  they will acquire more energy with a higher       important that you bring your medication with you
        haemoglobin.                                          on admission to hospital or for each dialysis
           EPO is prescribed on a high-tech prescription.     treatment if required.


                                                                                    Stimulates stem cells
                                                                                           in bone marrow
            Low oxygen
            tension at

                                                         RBC Precursor

            carrying                                  series
            capacity                                  of steps

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