Patient Celebrates Four Decades Living – and Thriving – on Dialysis


Dialyzing for 40 years is no small feat. In fact, it’s just two years shy of the current world record. Celia Kanter, 78, celebrates this milestone surrounded by her Fresenius Kidney Care team, family and friends. The secret to Celia’s success? She credits her positive attitude and a strong will that keeps her motivated.

Celia’s kidneys failed when she was 30 years old. At the time, she was married with a two-month-old daughter. When doctors said she wouldn’t live past her daughter’s 10th birthday, Celia decided to take her health into her own hands.

“I read every medical book I could find,” Celia said. “You can manage your dialysis well if you pay attention and know what’s best for your body.”

When Celia began treatments in 1978, dialysis options were limited. She chose in-center dialysis, but the center was only open during the day while she was at work. Since Celia was scheduled to receive treatments three times a week for four hours each time, she had to retire from her teaching career opting to work several odd jobs to accommodate her dialysis schedule.

Celia was thrilled when her center began offering dialysis during the evenings. She knew she could finally search for a permanent career. Celia went back to school taking tax classes. Ultimately, Celia owned her own business for 27 years and handled very complex taxes for companies. “My business meant the world to me,” Celia said. “And thanks to my treatment schedule at Fresenius Kidney Care at night, I never missed a day of work. I would even bring my work to dialysis treatments and crunch numbers while in my chair.”

Celia worked until she was 72, stopping only to focus on a breast cancer diagnosis that she beat a few years later.

“Even while facing health struggles, Celia never lets go of her spunk and love for life,” said Mary Lou Ellis, a social worker at Newport Beach Dialysis Center.

Celia’s care team admires her commitment to her health and says her positive attitude is contagious and an inspiration to other patients.

“I always walk into my center with a smile on my face,” Celia said. “My care team is wonderful, and I’m honored to be someone that other patients look up to.”

Recently, Celia’s center hosted a celebration honoring her four-decade long dialysis journey.

“I want people to know that I believe you can live at least 50 productive years on dialysis as long as you educate yourself, understand your blood tests, maintain a strict diet and have a positive attitude,” Celia said.

In her free time, Celia enjoys playing bridge, going to lunch with friends and spending time with her daughter.

“My mom has beat the odds and then some,” said Celia’s daughter, Caryn Schultz. “Every day I have with her is a blessing, especially since I didn’t think she’d make it past my 10th birthday.”

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