HARLINGEN, Texas(ValleyCentral) — More than half of people in the United States who receive dialysis for end-stage kidney disease are minorities, according to the CDC.

And the process of dialysis can raise the risk of developing a life-threatening staph infection, which can be deadly as some infections resist treatment by antibiotics.

“Many of the patients here start dialysis through the catheter, which is not recommended because they wait for the access to replace in the arm, the fistula or the graft, and catheters, which is an external device,” nephrologist Dr. Brajesh Bhatla said. “It goes into their bloodstream directly. So that makes them very prone to infection.”

Many minorities suffer from medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, increasing the risk of developing kidney disease. This requires dialysis treatment, which increases the risk of infection due to constant access to the bloodstream.

According to the analysis, catheters pose the greatest risk of infection to patients. 

Patients who receive treatment at home should ensure the environment is clean and sterile to avoid cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria.

Although, dialysis-related infections are preventable, the most common type of infection is staph. Doctors say preventing staph infections starts by detecting kidney disease early. This will ultimately help people prevent or delay the need for dialysis.

Some people with kidney disease receive transplants, but not every patient qualifies for the procedure.

“Not everybody is appropriate for it,” Bhatla said. “So you have to have an ideal body weight. For that, you have to have a good heart, you have to have no other major diseases in the other organs to qualify for the transplant, and you have to go to a transplant center.”

Not many transplant centers are available here in the Valley, the doctor.

“One is in McAllen. Some are in San Antonio. So it requires travel,” he said. “So transplant is the best option if somebody can get it, but it takes time, and not everybody is a candidate for it.”