It’s a scary time for the whole family when a child has been diagnosed with kidney failure. Dialysis can help a child survive an acute episode of kidney failure or stay healthy until a donated kidney becomes available. At University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, children are treated at the Pediatric Dialysis Center, the only facility of its kind in Iowa. Our staff is dedicated to helping your child get the care he or she needs in order to lead the most normal life possible.

The kidneys remove waste products and extra water from the blood. If the kidneys do not work properly, your child will need some help to do this work. At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital our patients are treated through hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (both center and home-based therapies). Each type of dialysis will affect your family's lifestyle. Your doctor and nurses will help you choose the one that is best for your child. Each situation is different.

Hemodialysis

With hemodialysis, your child's blood passes through a filter to remove waste products, extra salt, and extra water. Hemodialysis helps control blood pressure and keeps the proper balance of potassium, sodium, calcium, and bicarbonate in the body. Hemodialysis is done at the Pediatric Dialysis Center, typically three times a week. Patients are connected to a machine that removes waste products and extra water from their blood, doing the work of a healthy kidney. Each dialysis session lasts up to four hours.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your child's abdomen, called the peritoneal membrane, to filter blood. Fluid is put in the patient’s abdomen through a small, flexible tube called a peritoneal dialysis catheter and flushed out either every night while the patient sleeps (automatic peritoneal dialysis) or by regular exchanges throughout the day (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis). This type of dialysis can be performed at home each day with the help of family members.

Child and Family-Centered Care

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment, but chronic kidney failure can bring on emotional, social, medical and financial issues and stresses for children and their families. Our staff is committed to lessening the burden of dialysis on patients and their families through supportive child and family-centered care.

The child-friendly Pediatric Dialysis Center was made possible with the support of Walmart and Sam’s Club, whose associates raised and donated $400,000 for the project through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Health Information

Patient Stories

  • Gentler Method of Dialysis Gives Toddler and Family More Mobility

    Charlie Flemming and his sister Gentler method of dialysis gives toddler and family more mobility.Read more
  • Alex and Molly Kirby

    Alex and Molly Kirby icon Alex went in for a routine physical in 2009, not expecting to find anything wrong. The results were shocking. He was diagnosed with pediatric nephronophthisis, a serious kidney disorder, and immediately began dialysis. Due to the severity of his illness, Alex needed a kidney transplant, which he received in November 2009.Read more
  • Shawn-Brooklyn Young

    Shawn-Brooklyn Young portrait When he was 8 months old, Shawn-Brooklyn contracted bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. Three days after he was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at his local hospital, his kidneys failed and he needed dialysis. Since UI Stead Family Children's Hospital is the only facility in Iowa that offers pediatric dialysis, he came to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. Read more
  • Brandi Yates

    Brandi Yates icon Brandi’s life changed forever in October 2006; it started with a bloody nose that just wouldn’t stop. When her parents took her to the local hospital’s emergency room, her blood pressure was dangerously high and her kidneys had shut down. Air-lifted to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital, the only facility in Iowa that has a dedicated pediatric dialysis center, she began dialysis.Read more
  • Grant Stracke

    Grant Stracke portrait Grant was suffering life-threatening post-operative complications and infection. UI Stead Family Children's Hospital is home to Iowa’s only pediatric program for continuous renal replacement therapy, a procedure that does the work of the kidneys for critically ill patients. Read more

Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    C 300-17 General Hospital
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: Elevator A or B, Level 3
    Hours
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Contact
    • Phone: 319-356-7333

Care Team

Other Team Members

  • Jennifer Ehrlich, RN, Nurse Manager
  • Amy Beckman, RN, Assistant Nurse Manager
  • Carolyn Lewis, Clerk
  • Mary Lee Neuberger, APN
  • Heather Baker, RN
  • Laura Hempen, RN
  • Katie Roben, RN
  • Annette Thomas, RN
  • Melissa Thopmson, RN
  • Sara Wiggins, RN