The average life expectancy for a person on dialysis with chronic kidney failure is five to 10 years, according to the National Kidney Foundation. However, many people live well with dialysis for 20 and even 30 years.
Chronic kidney failure occurs when 85 to 90 percent of the kidney function is lost. A person with chronic kidney failure needs dialysis for life unless he is able to get a kidney transplant. Refusing treatment means the person could die, and this could happen within a few days or a few weeks depending on the remaining kidney function, explains Baxter Healthcare.
The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood. The buildup of the waste products in kidney failure can cause nausea, poor appetite and anemia, notes the National Kidney Foundation. Dialysis is necessary to remove waste products, salts and extra water from the body and control blood pressure. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, the blood is pumped into the dialysis machine, which filters the blood and returns it to the body. In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is cleaned inside the abdomen in the peritoneal cavity. A cleansing solution is passed into the peritoneal cavity using a catheter, and the waste and extra water pass from the blood into the solution.