When a child’s Christmas wish is a transplant

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.”

They came together Monday to celebrate the holidays and remind the community of how lives can be transformed through organ donation.

“In a perfect world, we would give them a kidney transplant as soon as they developed kidney failure,” said Dr. Gregory Abrahamian, surgical director of the Kidney Transplant Program and assistant professor of surgery at the UT Health Science Center. “But we can’t do that. We don’t have enough kidneys.”

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.

To learn more about registering to be an organ donor, or about becoming a living donor, go the the University Transplant Center website. University Transplant Center is a partnership between University Health System and the UT Health Science Center. It 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.

See news coverage of our children on dialysis here. Courtesy WOAI-TV.