For 4-year-old Braylin McMullen, UC Davis Children’s Hospital has been a second home.
After contracting E. coli at the age of 3, she sustained kidney failure as well as liver and pancreas damage. Braylin has needed a three-hour hemodialysis treatment, a treatment that replaces kidney function, at UC Davis Children’s Hospital every week just to stay alive. It is a trip that takes one hour each way from the family’s home.
“She’s such a fighter,” said Braylin’s mom, Megan McMullen.
But this summer, Braylin has had more time to be a kid, thanks to UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s outpatient peritoneal dialysis program, which treats children with kidney failure. UC Davis is the only hospital in inland Northern California to offer outpatient peritoneal dialysis for patients under 10 years of age or 44 pounds.
Peritoneal dialysis is a process in which blood is cleaned through the peritoneal cavity, the membrane-lined space that separates the organs in the abdomen.
In peritoneal dialysis, the patient is connected through a catheter to a dialysis machine called a cycler, which runs each night. The machine fills the patient’s peritoneal cavity with a solution that cleans the blood, removes excess fluid and then drains out while the patient sleeps. During the day, the patient unhooks from the machine and is free to go to school or play. Peritoneal dialysis is a bridge to kidney transplant – the ultimate goal for pediatric kidney patients like Braylin.
UC Davis Children's Hospital ranked 33rd nationally in nephrology in the 2019-2020 US News & World Report "Best Children's Hospitals" rankings.
Bertha Ramirez-Preciado, Braylin’s dialysis nurse, has taught Megan how to perform dialysis at home. Patients and their family typically spend a week to 10 days in peritoneal dialysis training. Once they’ve completed training, patients continue with follow-up care every month.
“I am so thankful for all of the nurses and doctors at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. They took care of Braylin like she was their own. Without them, it would have been impossible. They were my support system,” said Megan McMullen.
As for Braylin, she has had more time to enjoy the summer, painting, coloring and running in the sprinklers.