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Diseases &… Childhood Kidney Diseases in…

Department of Pediatric Nephrology

at Heidelberg University Hospital

The Pediatric Nephrology division at the Center for Child and Adolescent Medicine in Heidelberg is one of the largest university facilities in Germany for the treatment of children with kidney disease. As the reference center for about eight million people living in southwestern Germany, we offer competent diagnostic procedures and treatment for the entire range of acute and chronic renal function disorders in children.

Every year, more than 300 new patients come here for treatment. We treat over 5,000 patients on an outpatient basis and approximately 800 children with kidney disease on an inpatient basis.

One of our special focuses is the treatment of children with chronic kidney failure – ranging from treatment with medication to kidney replacement treatment consisting of dialysis and kidney transplant. Since 1970, more than 800 children have received chronic dialysis at our center, and approximately 500 children and adolescents have received a donated kidney.

Portrait von Prof. Dr. med. Franz Schaefer
Prof. Dr. med. Franz Schaefer

Head of Division for Pediatric Nephrology

The entire range of diagnostic tests and treatment of pediatric renal function disorders

Every year, eight to ten children are admitted to our dialysis and transplantation program. In cooperation with the transplant center at the Department of Surgery at the University Hospital, one of the leading centers in Germany, and the Department of Transplantation Immunology at the Institute of Immunology and Serology at the University of Heidelberg, we perform an average of 20 kidney transplants each year on children and adolescents. The preparatory, post-operative, and follow-up care are provided at the Center for Child and Adolescent Medicine.

In the acute treatment unit, we perform an average of 1,000 in-hospital dialyses per year, including approximately 500 extracorporeal dialysis procedures and 500 peritoneal dialysis procedures. Our team offers all of the latest methods of dialysis, including hemodialysis for newborns with metabolic diseases, plasmapheresis, hemofiltration, immunoadsorption, and MARS dialysis (molecular absorbent regenerating system) for the treatment of acute liver failure.

Patients with chronic renal disease benefit from the comprehensive interdisciplinary cooperation at Heidelberg University Hospital: our experienced team, consisting of pediatricians, specialized nurses, psychologists, dieticians, social workers, teachers, and tutors, supports families in close coordination with physicians from the urology, pediatric radiology, pediatric surgery, transplant surgery, transplant immunology, developmental neurology, neuropediatric, and pediatric gastroenterology departments.

Parents can sleep right on the ward in their child’s room or in a special parent’s room. There are also apartments for parents in the immediate vicinity of the hospital.


In addition to their clinical work, the physicians in the Pediatric Nephrology division are also active and successful in research: special focuses are the genetic causes of renal disease in children, the progression of chronic renal failure in children, cardiovascular and endocrinal complications of chronic renal failure, peritoneal dialysis, and all aspects of kidney transplants in children. The coordination of national and international study groups (e.g., ESCAPE Network, working groups for children’s dialysis and transplantation), in which large-scale observation and treatment studies are planned and implemented, holds a prominent place in the research of the physicians in the division.

“NephroGen” – central address for laboratory requests

Most pediatric renal diseases have a genetic cause. However, diagnosis is very difficult and can only be carried out in specialized laboratories. The Pediatric Nephrology division has established a highly qualified laboratory, “NephroGen,” for conducting gene analyses for numerous patients in Germany and abroad, considerably improving the ability to make a diagnosis and to provide counseling for affected families. Two Internet portals ( and have been made available for accepting applications, gathering data, and providing information. Since 2005, over 1,200 gene analyses have been carried out here.

  • Portrait von Prof. Dr. med. Franz Schaefer

    We participate in several national and international patient registries and quality assurance programs (e.g., ESPN-ERA/EDTA Registry, International Pediatric PD Network, Collaborative Transplant Study).

    Professor Dr. Franz Schaefer, Head of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology