Jillian Warejko, a pediatric nephrologist, was drawn to treating children with kidney diseases because of the long-lasting relationships she forms with her patients, and the many successful treatment options she can offer them.
“The kidneys are one of the few organ systems where if, in the worst case scenario, I need to step in and intervene because they aren’t doing what they need to do, I can because there’s dialysis and transplant,” Dr. Warejko says. “You can replace a nonfunctioning kidney with a functioning one. You can restore previously lost function. All of this allows kids to grow and develop as they should. They can get dialysis or a transplant and still go to school. And in some cases, I see kids who are born with a kidney problem in the hospital and continue treating them until they’re off to getting their Ph.D., which is really cool.”
The kidneys also continue to fascinate Dr. Warejko. “As human beings, we’re 70 percent water and kidneys dictate how the salt and water in your body stays in balance. Your heart needs certain electrolytes to be in certain proportions to beat well. Your brain needs the same to think and transmit signals so you can move your muscles and think,” she says. “In most cases, you can’t feel your kidneys and they don’t cause you pain, but they can certainly causes a lot of health issues if they aren’t perfectly tuned.”
Dr. Warejko’s research explores nephrotic syndrome, a rare form of kidney disease that causes the kidneys to become “very leaky,” she says, and put protein in the urine, which causes the organs to swell and not function well.