Home to one of only four Peadiatric Dialysis Units in all of Israel, and the largest in the country, Shaare Zedek’s Department of Nephrology has come to a point where it is regularly filled beyond capacity, reflecting on the critical need that will be served with the new Wilf Children’s Hospital.

Shaare Zedek believes strongly that children should receive medical care separately from adults whenever possible.  Even the best hospital can be an intimidating place for a child, and this feeling is exacerbated if they are forced to enter a world of ill adults to receive treatment. Young patients in the Peadiatric Dialysis Unit with end-stage renal disease must receive treatment three times a week, for several hours each time, often for several years.  Most of these children are awaiting a kidney transplant.  As such, the Hospital becomes a second home for them, and we are committed to making this home as welcoming as possible.

Socially, the Peadiatric Dialysis Unit is a different world – and perhaps points the direction to Israel’s future.  More than 70% of the Unit’s patients are Arab children, and they and the Jewish children, after spending the better part of the day together, get to know each other well. In many cases, close friendships develop, something that would be virtually impossible in the world outside the Hospital.

Present in the Unit at all times are both Hebrew and Arabic-speaking nurses, so every patient and family member can make him or herself understood. In fact, because the young patients miss many hours of school due to their illness, both Hebrew-speaking and Arabic speaking teachers, all accredited and licensed by the Ministry of Education, are present in the Unit every day to help the children, of elementary to high school age, keep up with their schoolwork as much as possible.

The children’s parents often develop close relationships as well, as they discover over a cup of coffee that there is much more that unites them – particularly the problem of coping with an ill child – than that which divides them. Shaare Zedek as a whole is a model of coexistence, and this is nowhere more evident than in the Peadiatric Dialysis Unit.