When a child’s Christmas wish is a transplant

Nine kids spend three days a week on dialysis machines at University Hospital awaiting a new kidney

While most of us are caught up in the whirlwind of last-minute shopping and holiday plans this week, nine children on the transplant list are hoping for a different and very generous gift, either from a living donor or from someone who has made the decision to donate their organs after passing away.

Most of these children must come to University Hospital three times a week and spend several hours connected to a dialysis machine to survive. Dialysis is an artificial process that does the work of healthy kidneys to filter toxins from the blood.

“Dialysis is a blessing because we don’t have a kidney for everybody at the moment they need a transplant,” said Dr. Mazen Arar, medical director of the Pediatric Dialysis Program and professor of pediatrics at the UT Health Science Center.

“But their quality of life isn’t great. Dialysis offers them enough kidney function to survive, but it’s just a tool until they get the definitive treatment for kidney failure, which is a transplant.”

It’s an uncomfortable life for anyone, much less a child. These children often have developmental delays and other complications, and must be away from school and friends.

Fortunately, they have a chance for a normal life through a transplant. Children with kidney failure and their families will gather Monday to celebrate the holidays and remind the community of how lives can be transformed through organ donation.

These children — and their families — would like nothing more than the gift of a new kidney this Christmas. We hope that all of you in the community would take a moment from your busy holiday celebrations and consider registering as an organ donor. And if you’ve ever wondered about what is involved in becoming an altruistic donor, you can find more information at UTCLivingDonor.com

University Transplant Center, a partnership between University Health and the UT Health Science Center, is the only pediatric transplant program outside of Houston, Dallas and Corpus Christi, serving a vast area of South, Central and West Texas. It is one of the largest programs in the country, and has among the best outcomes.

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