Conditions + Treatments

Kidney Dialysis

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A kidney transplant is almost never an emergency, because dialysis is such an effective treatment. It gives us time to make sure the transplant is set up under the best conditions possible.

--William Harmon, MD, medical director, Kidney Transplant Program

One of the roles of your child’s kidneys is to act as a filter for her blood, making sure that it has the right balance of water and minerals. If your child’s kidneys are unable to filter her blood due to chronic kidney disease (CKD), and won’t recover normal kidney function, she will need either dialysis or a kidney transplant. If your child has acute kidney injury (AKI), a course of dialysis can support her kidneys until her kidney function returns.

Although around one-third of children with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) can go directly to a transplant, dialysis can help the others be in their best condition to ensure the most successful transplant possible.

Your child’s doctor may also recommend a course of dialysis if:

  • she is waiting for a transplant and a suitable donor has yet to be identified
  • a kidney transplant is not yet the right option
  • she has just had an unsuccessful kidney transplant

Dialysis at Boston Children’s Hospital

Here at Boston Children’s, your child is treated in our seven-bed dialysis unit, designed especially for kids. Our dialysis nurses will do everything they can to make sure your child is comfortable during her treatments. In addition to the nurses, our unit also includes specially trained dieticians, tutors, Child Life specialists and pharmacists, making us the only full-service dialysis unit in New England. We perform about 3,500 chronic dialysis treatments per year.

Transitioning from pediatric to adult care

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.

Top ranking in dialysis management

Boston Children’s has been named the highest-ranking pediatric hospital in dialysis management in the U.S. News and World Report's 2010 edition of America’s Best Children's Hospitals. 

Dialysis: Reviewed by William Harmon M.D.
© Boston Children's Hospital, 2010

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