Airlines are now required to transport portable dialysis equipment for free after patients complained to the U.S. Department of Transportation about excessive charges or refusal to transport the equipment.

The decision is the result of talks between the Home Dialyzors United advocacy group and the DOT. “This is a huge victory for home dialyzors who travel by air with their portable dialysis machines,” said Rich Berkowitz, HDU founder and president. “With almost 40,000 people in the U.S. today using some form of portable dialysis machine, this guarantees that they will no longer face discrimination by air carriers refusing to carry their life-saving dialysis devices for no charge, or demanding payment of excessive freight charges to carry their machines in the plane’s cargo holds.”

Air carriers in the United States are required by law to carry assistive devices for people with disabilities under the provisions of DOT 14 CFR Part 382, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel of the Air Carrier Access Act. Such items as portable wheel chairs, oxygen, personal ventilators/respirators, canes and other assistive devices are enumerated in the current regulations. However, there is no specific mention of portable dialysis machines.

 “Unfortunately, without specific mention of portable dialysis machines in the DOT regulations,” said Berkowitz, “many of our members have had a great deal of difficulty boarding commercial aircraft with their machines. Over the last three years we have documented these instances of discrimination, and the DOT has acknowledged the need to enhance 14 CFR Part 382 to protect home dialyzors. We are extremely grateful to the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Protection for taking up our cause.”

Berkowitz recommends that home dialyzors carry the guidance with them while traveling. The document is available at the HDU website at www.homedialysorsunited.org