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2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the European Society for Paediatric Nephrology (ESPN) foundation meeting in Glasgow. In 1967, 36 paediatric nephrologists from 22 countries gathered to share outcomes, innovations and to collaborate to fight kidney diseases in children. Today, there are over 1500 paediatric nephrologists in Europe. 2017 was also the centenary of the world’s first paediatric and adult kidney biopsies, which also took place at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. This was later published in Archives of Disease in Childhood in 1930 and outlined the result of a series of kidney ‘decapsulation’ to try to treat nephrosis, what we would today call nephrotic syndrome. A series of 19 children underwent this procedure and as part of this an open kidney biopsy was taken and examined microscopically.1
This era heralded the beginning of paediatric subspecialisation in nephrology. In Glasgow, Gavin Arneil (1923–2018) established a regional referral unit for children with kidney disease, it was the first in UK and only the third in Europe after Paris and Helsinki. Since then, tremendous advances in medical, nursing and psychosocial care have been made. Before the 1960s, no child with end stage renal failure survived as neither dialysis nor transplantation was possible. Although today’s treatment remains imperfect and complications still need to be intensively managed, more than 90% of children <16 years of age starting chronic dialysis or transplanted …
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