Monday, April 11, 2011

Overcoming chronic kidney disease

Kassie Holmes, left, and nephrologist Avi Traum, MD

Kelly Holmes is amazed by the care her daughter Kassie received at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Mass General Transplant Center. A premature birth had left Kassie with developmental delays and severely damaged kidneys, ultimately requiring a kidney transplant.

“First we were told she had 48 hours to live, then one week, and now here she is, 14 years later,” says Holmes.

Holmes remembers when her newborn daughter was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the infant’s blood pressure was difficult to regulate. Kassie was placed on peritoneal dialysis and a variety of medications. She eventually came off dialysis, but she was left with chronic kidney disease.

“They didn’t think she would ever walk, maybe not even talk,” says Holmes, “They didn’t think she’d get very far at all.” Kassie’s kidney function deteriorated over the years to dangerous levels. Finally she was faced with going back on dialysis or receiving a transplant. Her parents felt a transplant was the best option. To their relief, both were matches for their daughter.

“Kassie was a candidate for a transplant regimen that did not include steroids,” explains Avi Traum, MD, pediatric nephrologist. “We felt this would be important for her, given the side effects associated with steroids. We also were encouraged that her parents were both potential donors, so Kassie could receive a pre-emptive transplant without having to suffer on dialysis.”

On Aug. 18, 2009, Kassie and her mother had surgery at Mass General. Within three weeks, Kassie was “up and running.”

“We’ve experienced major changes since her transplant,” says Holmes. “Kassie has more energy, and she is much happier. Her teachers have noticed that her attention level is way up, as is her receptiveness to what she is learning.” Kassie’s appetite and strength also have improved dramatically.

“She now tells us she’s hungry,” says her mother, “And she has no restrictions – she can eat whatever everyone else eats. She has the energy to ride her bike again, and she can keep up with the kids on the playground. The level of care we received – from the physicians to the front desk staff – was incredible.”

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