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Dialysis unit at Riley Hospital for Children in need of food pantry donations for patients

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 10:45:27-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Riley Hospital for Children is the only pediatric dialysis unit in the state and now it needs your help keeping patients healthy.

It's experiencing a shortage in it's food pantry.

The food pantry is inside the dialysis unit at Riley Hospital for Children and is dedicated to all patients and families.

"The benefit we see is from the patients and families themselves saying this is a valuable resource to them and asking for more support," said Dr. Neha Pottanat.

Dr. Neha Pottanat leads the pediatric dialysis unit.

She said part of medical treatment includes diet restrictions.

Focusing on a child's diet can be challenging.

"You gotta constantly read everything. You gotta make sure it's not as high, gotta make sure it doesn't have a lot of sodium," said Michela Banks.

Banks brings her 11-year-old son, Ethan Poe, for dialysis multiple times throughout the week.

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"He's very giving. He would give you his last. He loves pizza even though I try to make him not eat it so much, and grilled cheese," said Banks.

They're working on the health journey as a family.

"Trying to get better with his eating and stuff has made me better with it, so if I don't buy it we cant eat it," she said.

Dr. Pottanat says on top of simply being worn out from treatment, or the drive to and from the hospital, the cost of healthier food options is a struggle for some families.

"In this process we found, when we tell families you should eat healthier fruits, things like that that have low potassium, sodium, phosphorus. It's hard for them to get those things. Those things are expensive. Then, we started to better understand what's called food insecurity," said Dr. Pottanat.

The hospital said nearly 50% of the kids receiving dialysis don't have access to the healthy food options needed.

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It started the pantry a couple of years ago as a way to help, but the shelves are getting slim.

It's looking for low sodium canned vegetables, fresh fruit, peanut butter, and more.

The community can pitch in through monetary donations.

For more information, visit the Riley website.

"It's been an emotional two years. I can really say Riley has helped me with a lot of stuff. They've calmed me, talked to me and Ethan. They make him feel comfortable," said Banks.

This story will be updated.