Tohma Morrison

Renal Center: Then & Now

Tohma Morrison
Renal Center: Then & Now

The renal-metabolic service was one of the first subspecialties established at Texas Children’s Hospital when it opened in 1954. Led by Dr. Charles William Daeschner, Jr., the service performed one of the first peritoneal dialysis procedures in a child in 1957. Today the Renal Center ranks as one of the top three in the nation to treat the full spectrum of kidney and renal conditions. Eight specialty clinics and programs are dedicated to pediatric care, including dialysis, transplant, lupus and end-stage renal disease.

Texas Children’s Renal Center is ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.


The story of Texas Children’s  history began with its first patient, 3-year-old Lamaina Leigh Van Wagner; who was referred by her pediatrician for a kidney disorder. And as they say, the rest is history. Led by Dr. Charles William Daeschner, Jr.,  the renal-metabolic clinic had a large scope of services, but focused mainly on diabetes and kidney disease.

In the 1940s and 1950s, adult dialysis was rare, and there was virtually no standard of care for pediatric dialysis patients. Even rarer still, was peritoneal dialysis, a particular form of dialysis that used peritoneal membranes that line the abdominal cavity as a filter for adult patients with end-stage renal failure. Special solutions that facilitate the removal of toxins are infused into the peritoneal cavity, where they remain for a time and then are drained out. Literally, there was no special solutions for pediatric patients, so Dr. Daeschner and the first renal-metabolic fellow, Dr. L. Leighton Hill, actually made their own solution in their lab and manually performed dialysis with this liquid at Texas Children's Hospital. 

The 1960s ushered in an era growth and recognition. Led by Dr. Hill and Dr. Clayton, Texas Children’s Hospital received its very first federal grant approved by the  National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant contributed to the opening of the Clinical Research Center and allowed the team to do  research that previously was not possible. Between 1960 and 1994, Dr. Hill trained more than 23 fellows in pediatric nephrology and continued to expand the service. However, the specific concentration for treatment and research of renal or kidney conditions in children wasn’t official recognized by the American Board of Pediatrics until 1974. 

Then in 1979, so many years after the days of hand-mixing dialysis solution, the Pediatric Dialysis Center at Texas Children’s Hospital finally opened. Offering both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, it was Houston’s only facility dedicated to the care of children with chronic kidney failure. By 1980, dialysis expanded to inpatients as well.

Dialysis innovation only tells part of the story. In 1988, the first kidney transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital was performed by Dr. George Noon, a world-renowned surgeon. By 1994, Texas Children’s Hospital completed average of 10 kidney transplants per year.

Since the 1990s, the Renal Center expanded its focus and integrated the latest medical advances into standard practice for children. 


Aaron Crossland receives a kidney dialysis treatment at Texas Children’s Renal Center.

Aaron Crossland receives a kidney dialysis treatment at Texas Children’s Renal Center.

The Renal Service at Texas Children’s Hospital provides diagnostic, therapeutic and long-term care for infants, children and adolescents with all forms of congenital and acquired kidney diseases and is home to one of the largest pediatric dialysis units in the nation. 

The team consists of:

  • 16 pediatric nephrologists
  • 1 dedicated renal psychologist
  • 35 nephrology nurses (85% certified)
  • 3 renal child life specialists
  • 3 pediatric advanced practice registered nurses
  • 3 renal social workers
  • 3 renal transplant coordinators
  • 4 renal dietitians
  • 4 quality of life program coordinators
  • 2 school liaisons/tutors

Our Volumes (annual averages):

  • 6,000 clinic visits
  • 500 inpatient consultations
  • 160 children with kidney stones
  • 150 patients with System Lupus Erythematous
  • 100 native and renal transplant biopsies
  • 25 fetal evaluations for LUTO
  • 20 renal transplants    

For more information about Texas Children’s Renal Center, visit

On a record-setting day in March 2016, Texas Children’s Hospital performed 4 kidney transplants in one day. This amazing day also marked the 400th kidney transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Watch the incredible story.