SAN ANTONIO — This week marks National Pediatric Transplant Week, bringing awareness to the often-silent ailment of kidney disease. It's why regular child screenings are needed to pick up clues that a child may have a developing kidney condition.
"When our kids are missing out on that, they show up later in the disease course than expected and sometimes can lead to to complications. Especially (with) chronic kidney disease, the earlier we get you the better we can plan out treatment and ideally get to transplant before someone might need dialysis," said Dr. Daniel Ranch, the medical director for University Health's Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program.
He says because kids often seem healthy on the outside, parents can easily miss a serious medical problem.
"They're going to feel normal because kids are so strong and resilient," he said. "So many times it does require their their pediatrician to to help detect some of these early clues that something wrong is happening."
Some of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease include having a poor appetite, vomiting, frequent headaches, stunted growth, loss of urine, repeated urinary tract infections, pale skin, bad breath, poor muscle tone or a change of mental awareness.
So how do you know when it is bad enough for a child to need a transplant?
"Like most other organs in the body, the kidneys grow and develop as a child grows, too," Ranch said. "It takes time to figure out the health of the kidneys and what they might do down the line."
As with adults, dialysis is an option. But it isn't preferred.
"Transplantation, compared to dialysis, has been shown to offer superior survival in the long term," Ranch said. "And that's true for both kids and adults, which is why we pursue transplant as early as we can."
He added that the majority of pediatric kidney transplants come from adults.
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