Every parent with a child who is diagnosed with kidney disease and needs dialysis has similar questions. What’s the next step? How might my child feel? What will help my child cope with treatment? How will this affect our family’s life?
When it comes to pediatric kidney care, getting personalized expert care is close by. Currently, more than 10,600 people in Texas–children and adults–are awaiting a kidney transplant. In the meantime while they wait, they must undergo dialysis, a method of removing waste and excess fluid from the. Body. For children in the Rio Grande Valley, there’s Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center located at Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza – McAllen.
Driscoll Children’s Hospital has long been the South Texas leader in pediatric kidney care, with nephrology services beginning in 1999. Dialysis services beginning in 2004, the first renal transplant in 2007 and in 2014, opening the only freestanding pediatric dialysis. Center in the Rio Grande Valley. Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center opened its doors to serve children in the Rio Grande Valley and over the last year has experienced rapid growth. Currently open three days a week, the clinic will soon open six days a week in order to accommodate the growth of its patient base.
One patient typically undergoes dialysis treatment three times a week for up to four hours. It’s because of this demanding treatment schedule and to better serve their patients that Medical Director of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Kidney Center Samhar Al-Akash, MD, and his colleagues, pediatric nephrologists Elizabeth Anyaegbu, MD, Amy Becker, MD, Salam I. Gharaybeh, MD, and Surgical Director of Driscoll’s Renal Transplant Program P. Stephen Almond, MD, decided to open the dialysis center.
“The growth we’ve experienced over the last year has exceeded our expectations,” Dr. Al-Akash said. “The need for pediatric kidney services in the Valley is there and we are seeing that first-hand.”
Britt Stone, Driscoll Children’s Hospital dialysis manager, attributes this growth to the need in the community and to the individualized care Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center provides patients.
“What makes us unique is the customized care we provide our patients,” she says. “A child on dialysis is different from an adult on dialysis. It’s not just that our equipment is specially made for children; our dietitians for example, have to focus on the health and nutrition of our patients while also keeping in mind that a child’s body is still growing. It’s necessary to provide age-appropriate care for all our kiddos, whether they’re 8 years old or 21 years old—each child’s body is different.”
With smaller care ratios than other dialysis facilities, that kind of tailored care is possible. Each member of the care team feels responsible in helping a patient transition from dialysis and prepare for a transplant. Dialysis patients receive ongoing feedback during their treatment and have access to resources such as Driscoll social workers and child life specialists in addition to their nephrology team, something of which Dr. Al-Akash is especially proud.
“Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center has its own dedicated staff of nurses and coordinators who take on the clinic’s day-to-day operations,” he says. “We are also able to offer our patients access to a multidisciplinary team of specialists at the hospital should they need it. It’s this level of specialized care that makes Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center different from other dialysis facilities.”
Expert Kidney Care Close to Home
Furthermore, Driscoll offers comprehensive kidney care including nephrology and kidney transplant services. “From diagnosis of kidney diseases to dialysis and ultimately transplantation, Driscoll is there every step of the way,” Dr. Al-Akash said.
Echoing that sentiment is Surgical Director of Driscoll’s Renal Transplant Program P. Stephen Almond, MD, who, along with his transplant team, has successfully performed 91 kidney transplants (at time of publication). Fifty of those transplants were Rio Grande Valley children.
“We want our patients to know that they have access to these specialized services right where they live,” Dr. Almond said. “And not only can they get care where they live, they will get care from the same physicians throughout their journey.”
Driscoll Children’s Hospital performed the first organ transplant in South Texas in February 2007 and today remains the only pediatric kidney transplant program south of San Antonio. Since its inception, Driscoll’s transplant program has performed above the national average for patient and graft survival, with 100 percent survival at one year. Additionally, the average length of stay after transplant is two to three days, which is better than most centers.
“Our team works closely together, and we know our patients very well,” Dr. Almond says. “Being cognizant of our patients’ needs and situations allows us to achieve better outcomes than larger programs in larger cities.”
The center’s first-rate outcomes are also a result of its focus on quality. As a new, growing clinic, Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center pays close attention to infection control practices and hand washing in order to offer its patients the best care possible. In fact, because of the clinic’s commitment to quality, patients have low infection rates, as well as minimal unexpected hospital visits due to infection.
“Our patients and families know Driscoll and the level of care we offer,” Dr. Al-Akash said. “Their support –as well as the support of the community –means so much to us. We want to make sure that the children and families we serve get that high-quality, personalized care that they expect from Driscoll.”
And since opening in June 2014, Dr. Al-Akash and his team have worked to ensure families will receive just that. Until a kidney becomes available for transplant, Rio Grande Valley children with end-stage renal disease can depend on Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center to provide high-quality care close to home.
Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center
1120 East Ridge Road, Suite 103 McAllen, TX
By Samantha Joaquin