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Dialysis Unit

The UCSF Pediatric Dialysis Unit is one of only two centers in Northern California that specializes in dialysis treatment for infants, children and adolescents with kidney failure. These children depend on dialysis while they wait to receive a kidney transplant. The Pediatric Dialysis Unit based at our San Francisco location provides both hemodialysis, which is performed in the unit three times a week, and peritoneal dialysis, which is performed at home each day with the help of family members.

Child and family-centered care

Although dialysis is a life-saving treatment, having chronic kidney failure creates many stresses for children and their families, including emotional, social, medical and financial issues. We are committed to lessening the burden of dialysis on patients and their families through supportive child and family-centered care.

The Pediatric Dialysis Unit is a state-of-the-art facility designed especially for children with an open and friendly environment. The unit has five comfortable dialysis stations including a private room for infants and children with special needs. To lessen the boredom of repeated dialysis treatments, the unit is equipped with televisions and DVD players, Playstation2, GameCube, books, board games and laptop computers with Internet access.

Keeping kids in school

The Pediatric Dialysis Unit offers a school program for outpatient students from kindergarten up through the 12th grade, covering subjects from sounding out the letters of the alphabet to factoring algebraic equations. The program is available three days a week.

Most students are enrolled in school in their home districts. For these students, we offer a place to do assignments — somewhat like a study hall. The teacher regularly consults with the students' home districts and teachers to coordinate assignments, and often takes full responsibility for a portion of their course work, providing instruction, assessment and grades during their treatment.

A few students spend so much time away from home that they do all their schoolwork here, as students enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District. We provide the usual classes in reading, writing and math, but we also use volunteers and special visitors to add instruction in art, music and movie making.

Our credentialed teacher and several volunteers are available to answer students' questions and assist with lessons. We provide supplies, from paper and pencils to laptop computers, and have a small collection of classic children's books. All the students get a chance to order DVDs from Netflix, either to supplement their reading or for entertainment, and we also offer an assortment of games.

Our locations (1)

    Awards & recognition

    • One of the nation's best in nephrology

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    For visitors

    Before you head to the hospital, check out our guidelines for visitors and caregivers.


    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

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    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

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    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

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    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    We help kids return to school after hospitalization by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Decorative Caduceus

    Ferric Citrate and Chronic Kidney Disease in Children

    Change in iFGF23 levels


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Nephrotic Syndrome Study Network

    Defined as remission, partial remission and non-remission


    More about this study
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    Tender wagging care

    Our therapy dogs spread joy and smiles at the bedside and throughout the hospital.

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