Jaxon Green, 6, was diagnosed with kidney disease the day he was born. His illness meant that for years his life would depend on daily dialysis. And because his family lives in Tamaqua, a rural Pennsylvania town, his diagnosis also meant taking frequent two-hour trips to Philadelphia to see the closest pediatric nephrologist — even though an adult dialysis center was just five minutes from their home.
Pediatric kidney care is not as simple as prescribing small doses of adult medication, said Dr. Sandra Amaral, the lead researcher for a study published by JAMA this month. It’s important for children with kidney disease — especially end-stage kidney disease, or ESKD — to receive specialized care, but pediatric nephrology is a niche field. On top of that, specialists are not spread out evenly across the country.
Amaral and her team of researchers sought to examine these geographic differences and their impact on kids who need dialysis — a blood-filtering treatment that takes over the role of the kidneys — and are waiting for transplants.
To do this, the researchers compared how long it took for children who received treatment at for-profit dialysis centers to reach certain milestones — for example, being placed on the waitlist for a kidney transplant — compared with children who received treatment at nonprofit dialysis centers. “We’re sort of using profit sta …