Pediatric Dialysis Unit

When your child’s kidneys are not working properly, dialysis helps filter the waste from the blood and helps your child start to feel better. While dialysis is rare in children, kids with chronic renal disease, acute kidney failure and other systemic conditions (e.g., lupus) may need it.

At Rush University Children’s Hospital, your child will receive personalized dialysis on the Pediatric Dialysis Unit. Rush offers the only onsite dialysis unit in Chicago dedicated to specifically to children.

Types of dialysis


Hemodialysis is a process in which your child is hooked up to a dialysis machine that has a filter (called a dialyzer). The dialyzer slowly cleans your child’s blood and returns it to his or her body.

The treatment is done on the unit. It takes about four hours and is needed three days a week.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is a process in which you’ll use a PD catheter (a flexible plastic tube) to insert a sterile cleansing solution into your child’s abdominal lining (peritoneum). Together, the solution and blood vessels in your child’s abdominal cavity clean the blood of waste, chemicals and extra fluid.

This process takes about eight to 12 hours and can be done at home while your child is sleeping.

Other treatment options

Inpatient hemofiltration and hemoperfusion

Hemofiltration and hemoperfusion are typically used for critically ill children who are suffering with acute kidney failure, liver failure and/or multiple system failures. These treatments filter blood continuously rather than intermittently like dialysis.

Kidney transplant

Children on dialysis are often candidates for a kidney transplant. After the transplant, they may no longer need dialysis.

Supportive care

Pediatric dialysis specialists at Rush are committed to helping your child live as normally and comfortably as possible.

Home education and training

If you are doing dialysis treatments at home, pediatric dialysis specialists at Rush will work closely with you and your child to ensure that you have all the information and materials you need to successfully manage your child’s treatments as safely and effectively as possible.

A kid-friendly environment

The Pediatric Dialysis Unit was designed with children’s needs at the top of mind. The unit is a comfortable, caring space that helps nurture your child during treatment. The unit provides the following:

  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Games
  • Warm meals
  • One-on-one instruction with a schoolteacher

Multidisciplinary team

In addition to pediatric nephrologists, intensivists and dialysis nurses, your child’s pediatric dialysis team also includes the following:

  • Pediatric renal dietitian
  • Pediatric renal social worker
  • Child life specialist
  • Schoolteacher

If needed, your child also has access to additional specialists through Rush University Children’s Hospital.