State’s Only Pediatric Dialysis Unit At OU Children’s Hospital - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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State’s Only Pediatric Dialysis Unit At OU Children’s Hospital

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Zaya Wilbarger has spent three hours a day, three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine, for the past three years. Zaya Wilbarger has spent three hours a day, three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine, for the past three years.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

When you think about dialysis, you probably don't think about kids or even babies who have to undergo the process.  Unfortunately, that is the case for many Oklahoma children. 

Zaya Wilbarger has spent three hours a day, three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine, for the past three years.

“It’s been quite a challenge,” said Zaya. “You can get through it, it’s keeping me alive.”

She was born with kidney failure and at 8-years-old she was diagnosed with Cirrhosis.

“My great, great grandma had kidney failure and I was the chosen one to get it too.”

When she was 15 she learned she would have to go on dialysis.

“I was crying my eyes out and my mom was supporting me through the whole thing. She was telling me that everything’s going to be okay.”

It's the job of the nurses and staff at OU Children's Hospital to make it OK - not just medically.

“We get to know our kids really well, we get to know their families really well,” explained Donna Wilson, a registered nurse at the unit.

Volunteers, child life specialists and psychologists all work with patients.

“School work, home live, and not sitting here for three hours being bored,” explained Wilson.

The pediatric dialysis unit at Children's Hospital is the only one in the state.  

The unit has about 10 patients that receive dialysis on regular basis, from babies to age twenty-one.

At 18, Zaya is almost ready to transition to adult dialysis. Ultimately, a new kidney and liver would help her live a more normal life.

“It’s very risky for this surgery,” said Zaya.

In the meantime, she has prom and high school graduation to look forward to this spring. And a strong faith to get her through whatever comes after that.

“God gave me this for a reason, he knows that I can do this,” said Zaya.

The Children's Hospital Foundation is currently recruiting a specialist in Nephrology to help care for these kids. For more information to the CHF Foundation go to https://chfkids.com/.

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