Kidney Failure

Anatomy of the Kidney

Kidney failure refers to temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that results in loss of normal kidney function. There are two different types of kidney failure - acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Acute kidney injury has an abrupt onset and is potentially reversible. Chronic kidney disease progresses slowly over at least three months and can lead to permanent kidney failure. The causes, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes of acute and chronic are different.

Most children with kidney failure are followed by a pediatrician and a nephrologist (a physician who specializes in disorders or diseases of the kidneys).


How Boston Children's Hospital approaches kidney failure:

Our Division of Nephrology is the largest pediatric nephrology service in the United States. We care for patients with a wide range of kidney disorders, and we are home to the largest kidney transplant program in New England dedicated to caring for children.

Our seven-bed dialysis unit is the only full-service pediatric dialysis unit in New England. If your child requires dialysis, our dialysis nurses, dieticians, tutors and Child Life specialists will do everything they can to make sure your child is comfortable during her treatments. Read more about dialysis.

Our compassionate caregivers know that your child is a person, not just a patient, and depending on your particular situation, we provide support services for your child and your family throughout all stages of treatment and recovery.


 More than 9 million children in the United States are living with a chronic illness. Every year, 500,000 of these children turn 18. As they join their fellow adolescents in struggling to achieve optimal independence, they also face a serious issue they may not be prepared for: the transition of their medical care. Read Children’s tips for helping kids – and their families – make this key transition.