239 Pounds Lighter: Dialysis Patient Saved by Team at Mercy Hospital Ada

February 22, 2023

Story by Ellis Kmetzsch

ADA, Okla. – Esabel Cantu is a 54-year-old mother of five and grandmother of eight from Hereford, Texas, who thanks God, and her Mercy dialysis team, every day she is alive. Cantu went from being bedridden to having another chance at life thanks to lifesaving dialysis treatment from a dedicated Mercy team.

Due to health-related complications, Cantu gained a large amount of fluid that was literally killing her. Her care team in Texas was preparing to send her home on hospice, but one of Cantu’s daughters requested a transfer in a last-ditch effort to help her mom. After no local hospitals had a bed or the services she needed, Cantu was transferred nearly six hours away from her care facility in Hereford, Texas, to Ada, Oklahoma. 

When she first arrived at Mercy Hospital Ada, Cantu weighed 540 pounds. “I was desperate at that point because I had so much fluid and was so uncomfortable,” she said. “Then Dr. (Abdul) Khan and his team stepped in. They’re my angels in disguise.”

Cantu underwent treatment with Mercy Hospital Ada’s inpatient dialysis team every day for nearly 24 days. The result was a massive reduction of over 239 pounds of fluid.

“When Esabel arrived, I don’t even know how she was alive or breathing because of the amount of extra fluid she was carrying,” said Dr. Khan, Mercy’s nephrologist in charge of her care. The dialysis team immediately put in a temporary tunneled dialysis catheter and started dialyzing. Cantu received almost daily sessions, eliminating five to ten pounds of fluid with each session. 

Mercy doctor's coat Esabel Cantu, left, before reduction of over 239 pounds of fluid. Esabel, after Mercy's life-saving dialysis treatment, surrounded by four of her grandchildren.

“After dialysis, I could physically feel the difference,” Cantu said. “If it wasn’t for this team, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I was in such bad shape, but now I have hope and a new chance at life.”

When Cantu left Mercy to go back to a rehabilitation facility closer to home, she was down to nearly 301 pounds. The 239-pound reduction in fluid allowed Cantu to finally be able to sit up in bed independently and even start physical therapy.

“In my last 25 years of practice, I’ve never taken 200 pounds off of one person, but we are so glad our team had the opportunity to care for and help Esabel,” said Dr. Khan. “She looked and felt completely different by the time she left our care, and you could really tell she was happier.”

Cantu also expressed gratitude for the other dialysis team members who made her stay memorable, including Walter Lopez, Tyler Griffin and Kristi Sawney.

“God truly blessed me with this dialysis team,” said Cantu. “They are my blessings, and I greatly appreciate everything they did for me during my stay in Ada.”

While Cantu’s case is not typical of inpatient dialysis, it highlights the essential need for these types of services in rural communities. One goal of this new service line was to support rural communities and patients like Cantu. Another primary aim was to reduce unnecessary travel for patients and their families.

The dialysis suite at Mercy Hospital Ada is the only inpatient acute dialysis facility in the region. It provides support for hospitalized patients with end stage renal disease. This means individuals who suffer from chronic kidney failure and are hospitalized for additional illness or injury will no longer need to be transferred out of the area for dialysis care.

“Dialysis is not a matter of just keeping people alive, it’s a matter of helping them improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Khan. “It’s a big advantage that our community now has these services closer to home.”

The new suite has around the clock nursing coverage to support emergency needs. It also provides patients the newest dialysis technology.

According to Sharon Boling, director of nursing and manager of the dialysis team, the suite has been open since July of 2022. To learn more about Mercy Hospital Ada’s inpatient dialysis services, click here.