May 9, 2018

From the time Colton Makow was born, he faced an uphill battle. He spent his first 61 days of life in Texas Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and while there, was told by doctors that his kidneys were damaged from lack of oxygen and that he one day would need a transplant.

Devastated by the news, Colton’s mother, Julie Makow, knew she would do everything she could to save her son, including giving him one of her kidneys if that’s what it took to keep him alive.

“I always thought, if given the chance, that’s going to be the one thing I can do to make it better,” Julie said. “I knew I was going to be a part of that, and that I would be the first one tested to be a match.”

Julie got her chance to see if she was a viable donor candidate when doctors told her and Colton, then 6 years old, that it was time to make a move toward getting a kidney transplant. After the test, Julie was told she was a perfect match and that she could donate one of her kidneys to her son.

In February, Dr. Christine O’Mahony, surgical director of kidney transplantation at Texas Children’s Hospital, performed the surgery. Texas Children’s performs about 30 kidney transplants a year. When the organ comes from a living donor, it typically lasts longer. For Colton, that means hopefully it will be a long time before he needs another transplant.

“He’ll have to go see the physicians a lot more frequently than he would if he were another kid, he’ll have to get labs, but his life will otherwise be the same,” O’Mahony said. “He can play sports, go to school and be just like everybody else.”

Kirti Bhakta, the transplant coordinator who worked with Colton and Julie, said she has witnessed the selfless sacrifices parents make for their children time and time again.

“It is truly heartwarming,” she said. “So many of our parents will do anything to give their children a better chance at a good life. Their actions are the epitome of unconditional love.”

Dr. Sarah Swartz, medical director of dialysis for Texas Children’s Hospital, also worked with Colton and Julie and said their story is perfect for Mother’s Day.

“Colton now has the chance to live a better life, thanks to his mom,” Swartz said. “What a beautiful reminder to him and others the power of a mother’s love as well as the difference an organ donor can make in someone’s life.”

Click here to learn more about how to become an organ donor and here to read a story by KHOU11 about the Makows.

July 12, 2016

71316Dreileenbrewer175Medical Director of Renal Transplantation Eileen Brewer, MD, recently received an achievement award for her work on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Pediatric Transplantation Committee.

Brewer has been a member of the committee since 2009 and was chair of the committee in December 2015 when, after decades of hard work, the UNOS Board passed pediatric bylaws that establish specialized guidelines for surgeon and physician leadership for all hospitals with pediatric transplant programs.

“Dr. Brewer faced many tough questions about the bylaws and handled these questions with the mettle of a seasoned practitioner and diplomat,” said Christopher Wholley, a UNOS policy analyst. “It’s been a pleasure to work with her.”

Dr. John Goss, the medical director of Transplant Services at Texas Children’s Hospital, said Brewer’s work on the Pediatric Transplantation Committee has yielded some great work for the pediatric transplant community.

“This was a huge undertaking and we are very proud of her,” he said.

Brewer is an internationally known expert in pediatric renal diseases, dialysis, transplantation and hypertension. She is past president of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, former Council Member of the International Pediatric Nephrology Association and organizer of International Workshops on Hypertension in Children and Adolescents in 2001, 2004 and 2007.

She has been an active clinician and clinical researcher throughout her career, publishing more than 90 journal articles and 30 book chapters. She is frequently invited to speak at scientific meetings and workshops nationally and internationally.

March 22, 2016

32316transplantinside640Friday, March 11, was a record-setting day for the renal transplant service at Texas Children’s Hospital with the team completing four kidney transplants in 18 hours.

Wednesday evening, Claudia Kim, renal transplant coordinator, received a call that two kidneys were available and were a match for two of our patients. Kim and Dr. Eileen Brewer, medical director of renal transplantation at Texas Children’s, went into action contacting families and making arrangements within the hospital to admit the patients the next day.

Early Thursday morning, Kim received a call that a third kidney was available, and at 4 p.m. she was notified that we had a fourth. Both of those organs were a match for another two of our patients. With the help of renal transplant coordinators, Kirti Bhakta and Dana Harney, those families were notified. The medical and surgical renal transplant teams then shifted into high gear preparing for Friday, the day all four kidneys were transplanted.

The organ recipients and their families began arriving at the hospital at 6 p.m. Thursday to be admitted and prepped for surgery. Brewer and Dr. Christine O’Mahony, surgical director of renal transplantation, coordinated with our inpatient floors, the dialysis team, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), the operating rooms and pharmacy to make the transplants possible for all four patients.

Everyone involved was determined to make it happen for the patients who ranged from 4 to 28 years old. There were three female patients and one male patient. The 28-year-old had been on dialysis for 13 years waiting for a kidney.

O’Mahony and renal transplant surgeon Dr. Ron Cotton began the first transplant at 6 a.m. Friday. The second transplant started at 8 a.m., and the third and fourth began at 3:30 p.m. After surgery, all of the patients were admitted to the PICU. Two patients have since been discharged from the hospital. The remaining two patients are still here and are doing well.

It took an astounding team effort to complete the admission of four transplant patients and complete four surgeries in less than 24 hours. Renal surgeons and pediatric nephrologists, anesthesia, pharmacy, the PACU and PICU, perioperative nurses and technicians, renal transplant coordinators, the blood bank, 12 West Tower inpatient nurses and staff, the dialysis unit, social workers, child life specialists and dietitians all were involved in making this possible.

“We could never have done this without everyone’s input,” Brewer said. “I personally cannot thank the team enough.”

“Our biggest reward that day was the thanks and appreciation from the patients and their families for getting a new kidney,” Brewer added. “These patients can look forward to a great future.”

The last transplant on Friday was the 400th kidney transplant completed at Texas Children’s since the program began in 1988.

Renal Transplant Team Members and Operating Room Staff on March 11

Dr. Steven Stayer
Dr. Paul Hopkins
Dr. Titilopemi Aina
Dr. Thomas Shaw

Medical Team
Dr. Eileen Brewer
Dr. Poyyapakkam Srivaths
Dr. Sarah Swartz
Dr. Rossana Malatesta
Dr. Neziha Celebi
Dr. Peace Imani
Dr. Leyat Tal

Operating Room staff on March 11
Theresa Bagley
Jana Brunet
Danielle Govea
Doreen Hodgson
Hubert Laws
Lindsay Meade
Xianghua Xu

Ji Lee

Renal Transplant coordinators
Claudia Kim
Kirti Bhakta
Dana Harney

Surgical Team
Dr. Christine O’Mahony
Dr. Ron Cotton
Dr. Thao Galvan (Recovery)

32316HelenCurrier175Texas Children’s Hospital is pleased to announce Helen Currier, director of renal and pheresis services, was elected as President of the National Renal Administrators Association (NRAA).

Serving her term from October 2015 to October 2016, Currier will work with the NRAA Board of Directors to shape the future direction and vision for NRAA, especially as new models of payment and care delivery specific to Medicare beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease are tested and evaluated.

“These are exciting times as the NRAA is creating a milieu for developing and accessing the resources dialysis leaders need to grow new skills and abilities,” Currier said. “My vision is that we will champion education opportunities that will add value to the NRAA membership while effectively addressing external threats and protecting the standing of the independent, regional- and community-based dialysis providers of patient-centered, high-quality care.”

Currier was elected by her peer NRAA members as president-elect in 2014. The purpose of the NRAA is to provide renal administrators the opportunity for gaining continuing education, obtaining peer recognition and expanding development in the profession.

January 27, 2015


This month, Texas Children’s Renal Center delivered more than 100 acute therapies in less than 10 days – a remarkable milestone that demonstrates the value of teamwork and our hospital’s commitment to putting patients’ needs first.

“This is an incredible accomplishment,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Renal Services Dr. Michael Braun. “As the demand for our services continues to grow, so has our collaborative spirit to ensure critically-ill patients receive efficient, high quality care every time they walk through our doors.”

During the past three years, our Renal Center – ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 4 nationally by U.S. News and World Report – has seen a 20 percent annual increase in the volume of acute therapies delivered to patients during their hospital stay.

Unlike chronic kidney disease – which is incurable and tends to worsen over time prompting the need for dialysis or kidney transplant – acute kidney disease develops suddenly due to injury or underlying health problems. In many cases, the kidneys regain full function once the cause is addressed.

The Renal Center at Texas Children’s delivers two types of acute therapies – dialysis for the treatment of kidney failure, and apheresis, which separates unwanted cells or components from a patient’s blood and returns the desired components to patients with a wide range of illnesses.

Last year, 2,400 acute therapies were delivered to patients, averaging six treatments per day. To achieve this month’s milestone – 124 acute therapies in less than 10 days – the renal staff collaborated with numerous multidisciplinary teams across the organization to deliver results.

“Our success is contingent upon the support we received from fellows, nurses, blood bank, transplant services, supply chain, the intensive care units, as well as the critical care physicians, surgeons and radiologists who placed dialysis catheters into our patients prior to treatment,” Braun said.

The Renal Center’s exceptionally dedicated dialysis team worked tirelessly to ensure our acute and chronic kidney disease patients received life-saving treatments.

“Nurses and clinical hemodialysis technicians voluntarily worked extra hours and shifts to meet the increasing demand for renal services,” said Valesca Adams, assistant director of Nursing for Texas Children’s Renal Center. “It was a lot of work, but at the end of the day, our primary focus was – and still is – fulfilling our patients’ needs.”

“I am proud and humbled that our teams pulled together to achieve a performance record of this kind,” Braun said. “It is great to celebrate this milestone but even more importantly that we meet the standard of excellence that our patients have come to expect.”

Besides treating kidney disease, the Renal Center provides services to transplant patients, critically-ill ICU patients, as well as patients who have undergone cardiovascular surgery. The renal team delivers extracorporeal therapy to liver patients to help reduce the disease burden as they await a transplant.

To learn more about Texas Children’s Renal Center, click here.