This medical video explores how gene tests are helping children who have had kidney transplants.
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Jennifer Matthews: Seven-year-old Madison Kitz needs help, but not with her video games. Madison Kitz: I have kidney cancer, so I have to get dialysis to get that bad stuff out of my body. Jennifer Matthews: Three days a week, a machine at Stanford's Packard Children's Hospital cleans her blood, since both her kidneys were removed. Waiting for a donor is no fun, but it may get even harder after a transplant. Up to 35 percent of kids given new kidneys suffer acute rejection. That worries Madison's mom. Lisa Kitz: So I'm sure that after the transplant, it's going to be even more intense for a while. Dr. Minnie Sarwal: What we do need to do is to do better at being able to treat these acute rejections so that we limit that chronic injury and so these organs can last maybe the lifetime of a child. Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Minnie Sarwal, a pediatric nephrologist, suspects rejection drugs treat the wrong cells. That's because under a microscope, antibodies all look alike. So she tested transplant DNA on chips that detect which genes are turned on. Technology traced rejection to B-cells that defy steroids. Dr. Minnie Sarwal: And we had no way of being able to tell who needed the steroids or not. We now have a handle on being able to treat their acute rejection really swiftly. Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Sarwal hopes a clinical trial proves the drug Rituximab protects kidney transplants, maybe other organs too. That's promising as both Madison and her mom wait, and hope, for a new lease on life. Lisa Kitz: She just wants to be like all the other kids, just like everyone else. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.