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Kids on dialysis

At Kidney Health Australia, we’re here to provide support and information for parents and children on dialysis treatment.

A young boy on dialysis poses as Superman

At Kidney Health Australia, we understand the emotional and physical challenges that families face when impacted by kidney disease. We are here to provide support to both you and your child having dialysis treatment.

Type of dialysis for treatment for children

Chronic kidney disease can affect children of all ages, from babies through to teenagers. Children and young adults require specialist medical care in a children’s hospital or paediatric renal unit. While many children with kidney disease will eventually get a kidney transplant, dialysis is needed until then.

  • Peritoneal dialysis – usually the treatment of choice for children as it’s less invasive. It offers more flexibility and freedom, as it can be done overnight. In saying that, this type of dialysis isn’t always an option.
  • Haemodialysis – when peritoneal dialysis isn’t an option. Usually it’s done at a hospital or dialysis centre, rather than at home. Units for children are available in many locations around Australia.

Life for a child on dialysis

Dialysis is not easy, even for adults. If you’re wondering how your child might be feeling, research* tells us there are five major themes:

  1. Loss of control (high reliance on carers, parental over-protectiveness, unrelenting dependence on a machine, impaired body integrity)
  2. Restricted lifestyle (limited socialisation opportunities, academic struggle)
  3. Coping strategies (hope for kidney transplant and medical advances, social support, positive determination and self-awareness, engaging in activities, denial)
  4. Managing treatment (ownership, proactive involvement, adherence to fluid and diet restrictions)
  5. Feeling different (abnormal physical appearance, injustice, being a burden).

While children undergoing dialysis are more likely to experience impaired growth and poor self-esteem, there are things you can do to help. With the right resources, you can help your child manage their own health, connect and engage with their peer groups, the school environment and take part in recreational activities while still managing their dialysis and treatment responsibilities.

*Children’s experiences of dialysis: a systematic review of qualitative studies by Lidwien Tjaden, Allison Tong, Paul Henning, Jaap Groothoff and Jonathan C Craig (2011).

Support and information for families and carers

Kidney Health Australia Helpline

We provide a national phone support service for people living with and/or affected by kidney disease. To speak to us, simply contact 1800 454 363 during business hours Australian Eastern Standard Time. It’s a free call.

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