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Nephrology Staff’s Commitment: No Catheter as Homecoming Party Attire
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Staff’s Commitment: No Catheter as Homecoming Party Attire

The latest fashions for homecoming dances offer a lot of flattering styles. One-shoulder satin sheaths. Strapless, beaded bustiers. Billowy, chiffon skirts. But the dress is just the beginning of homecoming couture. Teenage trendsetters spend hours choosing hairstyles, heels, earrings and eye shadow to accent their chic style.

But the one accessory you aren’t likely to see on any high school fashionista is a hemodialysis catheter. The device—consisting of two silicone tubes that extrude from a patient’s chest to allow blood to be cleaned and extra fluid to be removed from the body—is hard to miss. As such, the staff at Children’s Mercy made a promise to 17-year-old Elizabeth McKinney: She wouldn’t have to wear one for her special evening out.

The Path to Recovery

Doctors had placed the device during emergency surgery in September after the Liberty, Mo., teen’s kidney function suddenly dipped below 15 percent, pushing her into Stage 5 end-stage renal disease (ESRD). She spent the next month driving to Children’s Mercy for hemodialysis three days a week. However, the travel and time commitment began to take their toll on Liz. So doctors decided to switch her to home peritoneal dialysis (PD) instead—with the promise they’d have it done in time for the dance. 

Meeting Every Need

Brad Warady, MD, a pediatric nephrologist and senior associate chair for the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy, acknowledged that addressing important events in an adolescent patient’s life was as important as addressing dialysis needs. “Recognition of and attention to a variety of psychosocial issues, such as school and dependence on doctors and nurses at a time when most teenagers are striving for independence, is imperative,” he explained.

Ron McKinney, Liz’s dad, agreed. “They understand what’s important to their patients,” he said. “They think more like children and young people than most hospitals do. They really want (them) to have a life.”

Above and Beyond

Ron said the quality of care he’d seen Liz receive from Children’s Mercy made him appreciate the luxury of having the facility nearby. “I don't know that people in Kansas City realize what kind of a resource is right here in (town),” he said. Despite that appreciation, he’s eager to put his family’s experience with the hospital behind them. In the summer of 2013, Elizabeth received a donated kidney from her aunt, and the transplant results were a success. She now looks forward to her next big step – attending college. 

While Ron wishes his daughter would never have gotten sick, and his family wouldn’t have needed the hospital’s resources, he said, “It’s been really cool.”

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