They were patients, driving to a dialysis center three days a week for a procedure that kept them alive.

Then the center closed, and the patients, desperate and naive, went into business for themselves."We didn't know anything," said Mark Lindsay, who was 54 years old and undergoing dialysis when the Ogden Limited Dialysis Center closed in 1983.

The displaced patients applied for a "certificate of need," the first step toward opening a center. Midvale businessman David Trimble and his partner had also applied for a certificate and, rather then compete with the patients, they combined forces with them and created the Dialysis Research Foundation. The foundation was split in two parts: The businessmen operated as a for-profit enterprise; the patients operated as a nonprofit organization.

The new Ogden facility opened in the summer of 1983. Six years later, the University of Utah stepped in, the businessmen stepped out and the the foundation became entirely nonprofit. Two more centers have opened: the Provo Dialysis Center in 1991 and the Lakeside Dialysis Center two weeks ago in Bountiful.

Satellite facilities are critical for people on dialysis, who must undergo the procedures sometimes as often as three days a week, for the rest of their lives, unless they get a transplant.

The foundation pays for popcorn machines, television and cable at the centers for patients made immobile during treatment.

Lindsay, who underwent a successful kidney transplant in October 1984, is now the administrator of the Dialysis Research Foundation. The foundation has an 11-member board of directors, four of whom are dialysis patients, and serves about 150 people.

"To our knowledge, this is the only foundation like this in the United States," Lindsay said.

Trimble, now chair of the board of directors, said the foundation is a great success.

Janeane Hovey was on dialysis for more than three years before she had a successful transplant. The Layton woman says when she was on dialysis 13 years ago, she often felt like a revenue-source for the for-profit facility she went to.

Now, as president of the patient association at Ogden's Bonneville Dialysis Center, Hovey says patients have a say and some ownership in their treatment.

"This is the best thing that can happen for patients," Hovey said. "We've kind of decided our patients are spoiled. They think all centers are like this."