When Kidneys Fail, Transplants Succeed

The close partnership between the medical and surgical teams at Seattle Children’s gives kids with end-stage kidney disease a bright future.

C.J. Bain

Twelve hours of daily dialysis can’t dampen the spirit or curiosity of C.J. Bain, 4. Transplant coordinator Makayla Ramirez, RN, is part of the team that manages C.J.’s care now, and during and after he receives a kidney transplant.

C.J. Bain was a thirsty boy. He woke up thirsty and he went to bed thirsty. What C.J. wanted more than anything was a cold glass of water. But he couldn’t have it. Not until he got a kidney.

“That was his big thing — when he got his kidney, he was going to have water,” says C.J.’s mother, Danell Bain. “He was so thirsty, it was driving him crazy.”

Born with a blocked urethra, C.J.’s dying kidneys were removed more than a year ago to stop repeated infections. He couldn’t consume any free liquids because, as his mom explains, the fluid had nowhere to go.

Instead, Danell and her husband, Gary, gave C.J. three cans a day of a dietary supplement — and waited for a call from Children’s telling the Port Orchard, Washington, couple that a suitable donor kidney was available for their 4-year-old son. That call finally came in the spring of 2007.

“The majority of children who develop kidney failure were born with abnormalities in their kidneys or urinary tracts,” explains pediatric surgeon Dr. Patrick Healey, who leads Children’s Division of Transplantation.

“Each child needs a plan of care that addresses their individual needs. This often includes a series of procedures to manage or reconstruct their underlying abnormality, to create access for dialysis and to provide optimal nutrition for growth before the transplant.”

Teamwork, rigorous follow-up and the exchange of new ideas with other leading programs are the keys to Children’s success, says Dr. Ruth McDonald, medical director for Solid Organ Transplant.

“Our entire team — physicians, pharmacists, nutritionists, transplant coordinators — makes rounds as a group and comes to decisions as a group, which ensures all aspects of a patient’s care and condition are considered,” says McDonald. “The relationship between the medical side and the surgical side is especially close.”