School and marching band were in full swing when one night, Haley Midkiff felt intense pain in her lower back. Her mother, Becca, suspected a kidney stone was to blame and took her to the emergency room near their California, Ky., home.

After confirming her suspicion, the doctor prescribed pain medication and told Haley to drink plenty of water, explaining that this could help flush the stone out of her system. But when the pain continued into the next morning, Becca knew she had to take Haley to Cincinnati Children's.

Finally, Some Relief

The medical team’s initial plan was to wait for the stone to pass naturally and use medication to minimize Haley’s sometimes excruciating pain.

“The nurses were so nice and caring, and as busy as the doctors were they took time to explain what was going on,” she said. “I always knew what was coming next."

After two days in the hospital with no success, Haley’s doctor − pediatric urologist William DeFoor, MD, MPH − recommended placing a temporary stent in the ureter where the stone was stuck. This tiny plastic tube would allow urine to drain more easily into the bladder, lessen the pain and, he hoped, help the stone to pass as well.

After placing the stent, DeFoor sent Haley home, and she returned several days later for a scheduled stent removal. It was during that procedure that the large kidney stone finally dislodged from the ureter.

Now pain free, Haley returned to her normal activities. As part of her ongoing care, she followed up with DeFoor at the Cincinnati Children’s Stone Center, where she also met with a registered dietitian to learn about dietary changes that could prevent future stones.

Haley followed the dietary recommendations closely, but several months later began to experience an all-too-familiar pain in her lower back. This time, the stone was in one of her kidneys, and DeFoor recommended lithotripsy. This procedure uses ultrasound shock waves to break the stone into small particles that can pass through the ureters easily.

Preventing Recurrence

While lithotripsy was a success and Haley’s kidney stones are gone, they are anything but forgotten.

“I’m really motivated to take good care of myself now,” she said. “In addition to drinking a lot of water every day, I avoid salt, which could lead to more kidney stones."

The experience has motivated Haley in another important way as well. She is thinking about going to medical school after college, and training to become a pediatric anesthesiologist − the branch of medicine dedicated to providing relief and comfort for children who are experiencing pain.

Could Your Child Have a Kidney Stone?

If left untreated, kidney stones can cause a urinary tract infection or kidney damage. Seek medical care if your child experiences:

  • Severe lower back pain
  • Lower back pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting, or fever and chills
  • Blood in the urine