Pediatric Kidney Transplantation

Since 1996, The Pediatric Nephrology and Transplantation Program has been improving the quality of life for New Jersey’s youngest patients with renal disease, renal dysfunction and hypertension.

Started as the first complete pediatric nephrology service in the state, it has established a reputation of technical excellence, clinical research and advocacy for the growing number of families who are choosing the transplant alternative for their children.

“When a child’s kidneys are not working, the whole body’s physiology changes,” explains Isabel Roberti, M.D., Director of Pediatric Nephrology and Transplantation. “The digestive system doesn’t function normally, brain development and bone growth are impaired, even taste sensation is affected. The kidney performs many functions, but dialysis can only correct a few of them.” It requires an interdisciplinary team of pediatric specialists to coordinate the care of children with renal disease, and, for many of the tiniest patients, transplant is the only good option.

Since 1996, The Pediatric Nephrology and Transplantation Program has performed more than 152 kidney transplants in patients between 10 months and 19 years of age with excellent results. With nearly three quarters of their patients receiving kidneys through living donation – mostly from their parents – the program consistently exceeds national averages for both short-term and long-term graft survival rates and acute rejection rates.

Over the years, the Program’s firm commitment to transplantation has been evident through its extensive involvement with clinical research trials for it young kidney recipients who face different challenges than adult kidney recipients in regards to drug therapies and physical and cognitive growth and development.

“There have been tremendous advances in our ability to support kidney failure with various forms of dialysis, medication, diet and replacement of the failed kidneys through transplantation,” explains Dr. Roberti. “Due to recent advances in the understanding of the immune system and the development of better drugs, the success rate for kidney transplantation is very high.”

The Program continues to be one of only a few in the country to participate in clinical drug trials that are improving the odds for young transplant recipients, including multiple multicentric studies in the fields of hypertension, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) and FSGS. The results of these studies and the experience of this program have been presented internationally at professional meetings and published in medical journals.

Dr. Roberti and the entire transplant team work closely with parents and families throughout the transplant process. “It is not just medical expertise and technology that create success stories in pediatric renal transplantation,” stresses Dr. Roberti. “These children survive because of the love, strength and dedication of their families.”

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