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Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Healthwatch Spring 2009

Child with One Kidney Survives Rare Cancer

Aggressive Treatment Eliminates Need for Lifelong Dialysis

When 2½-year-old Zachary developed a bulge in his abdomen, his mother took him to a Boca Raton emergency room.

Diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a rare pediatric kidney cancer, Zachary was immediately transferred to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood for surgery and treatment. Because Zachary was born with a solitary kidney, there was a real possibility that, if he lost his only kidney to the disease, he would require chemotherapy while on dialysis, for which there is no established protocol.

With the hospital's support, Zachary's parents obtained second opinions from the finest children's hospitals in the country. In the end, they put their faith in Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

Remarkable Treatment

Zachary's tumor was removed by Gary Birken, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, and a pediatric surgeon on the medical staffs of Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar. He was able to spare the remainder of Zachary's kidney, an outcome believed by many to be impossible.

Throughout Zachary's aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Deborah Kramer, MD, remained "unfaltering," says Zachary's mother. Dr. Kramer is a pediatric oncologist on the medical staff of Memorial Regional Hospital, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar.

Gary Birken, MD

Gary Birken, MD
Surgeon-in-Chief
Pediatric Surgeon

Alex Constantinescu, MD

Alex Constantinescu, MD
Medical Director
Pediatric Nephrology and
Hypertension Program

Zachary also benefited from the expertise of Alex Constantinescu, MD, the Medical Director of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's Pediatric Nephrology and Hypertension Program, and a pediatric nephrologist on the medical staffs of Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar. Dr. Constantinescu was fully prepared for the possibility of chemotherapy on dialysis – a scenario that thankfully never occurred.

Network of Specialists

Now 7, Zachary is and has continuously been cancer-free. He periodically visits Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for routine follow-ups and can now take advantage of the hospital's pediatric oncology and nephrology offices in Boca Raton.

"In addition to our Hollywood and Pembroke Pines locations, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital opened Pediatric Specialty Offices in Boca Raton and Miramar so children can obtain care closer to home," says Dr. Constantinescu.

"When your child has a life-threatening illness, you have to be secure in your belief that your doctors are doing everything in their power to help your child," say Zachary's parents. "At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, we never had any doubt."


To find a Memorial physician who is committed to patient- and family-centered care, call Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Physician Referral Service toll-free at (866) JDCH-DOC. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.