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Can You Live A Full Life With One Kidney

How Does The Urinary System Work

Living with one kidney

The urinary system consists of the kidneys, the bladder and ureters. The kidneys filter the blood to remove waste products and form urine. Urine flows from the kidneys down through the ureters to the bladder. From here it passes through another tube to the outside, when urinating.The ureters join the bladder at an angle, creating a flap . This prevents urine flowing back from the bladder into the ureters and the kidneys . It also stops the high pressure created by urination from affecting the kidneys. This valve helps to get rid of the urine in the bladder in one go, as the urine cannot travel to anywhere else.

Living With One Kidney: Diet

If you have one kidney your doctor may recommend the following changes in your diet:

  • Limit Salt and Protein Intake Salt and protein can affect your blood pressure and how hard your kidneys must work to filter waste and excess fluid.
  • Stay Hydrated Drinking plenty of water each day will promote healthy kidney function.

What Causes Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is relatively common. More than 37 million people in America have it, and millions of others are at risk of developing the condition. Aging can increase your risk of kidney problems, as can certain underlying health conditions, including:

You may have a higher risk of kidney disease if other people in your family have been diagnosed with it.

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Protecting Your Single Kidney From Injury

If you have a single kidney, injuring it can be a big problem because there isnt another one to compensate. If the injury is severe and your kidney stops working completely, you would need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

To avoid this, its very important to protect your single kidney from injury. Avoid contact sports that could lead to kidney injury. These include:

Over the long term, unless your kidney gets injured, loss of function in your single kidney is usually very mild and unnoticeable.

Most people with a single kidney dont need to follow a special diet, but like people with two kidneys, you should eat a healthy balanced diet.

Staying normally hydrated and drinking when thirsty is better than overhydration or dehydration.

If you have a single kidney because you had a transplant or if you have kidney disease, you may need to limit the amount of sodium, phosphorous, and protein in your diet. This is because your kidney cant remove them from your blood very well, so they build up.

You may also have to limit the amount of fluids you drink.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your nutritional needs and dietary restrictions.

Will I Be Able To Obtain Insurance Coverage After Donation


Your health insurance should not be affected by donation. The Affordable Care Act has made it illegal for health insurance companies to refuse to cover you or charge you more because you have a pre-existing condition.Some states in the U.S have passed the Living Donor Protection Act, which protects donors from being denied life, disability or long-term care insurance after donating. If youre in a state that hasnt yet passed this law, your transplant center is able to, if necessary, to provide a letter to your insurance.

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It Can Sometimes Do The Work Of Two

Tests have shown that some people who have had one kidney removed can have increased function in their remaining kidney. These increased function levels can equate to around 70 per cent of that normally achieved by two kidneys.

If someone is born with a single kidney, their overall kidney function is often normal.

How Does Eating Diet And Nutrition Affect A Solitary Kidney

If you have a solitary kidney, you do not need to eat a special diet. However, you can keep your kidneys healthy by staying well hydrated, not taking too much salt, and not gaining excessive weight. If you have reduced kidney function, you may need to make changes to your diet to slow your kidney disease progression. Work with your health care professional or a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that includes foods you enjoy eating while maintaining your kidney health.

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Late Effects: Kidney Health

The kidneys are vital organs responsible for filtering out waste products from the blood, controlling blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production. Treatment for blood disorders can sometimes damage the kidneys. It is important to understand how the kidneys function so that you can keep your kidneys as healthy as possible.

Are There Any Long

What Is a Kidney Transplant?

It is important to be aware that, although risks across the board are generally very low, every individual is different and it is possible for other uncommon complications to occur. For example, although rare, on-going fatigue and persistent pain have been reported by small numbers of the thousands of living donors.

However, most donors lead a normal, healthy life after they have donated and are able to do all the activities that they were doing before.

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How Does It Affect Overall Health

Im not going to lie people with just one kidney, either from birth defect or surgery, have extra health issues to face. When born with a solitary kidney, often it functions perfectly well for a number of years. However, as the years goes on, kidney function begins to deteriorate.

The New York University School of Medicine funded a study on adults with solitary kidney, showing: 8% have increased protein in the urine, 21% have increased creatinine levels, 20%-50% have high blood pressure.

Oddly, though, having one kidney is not linked to a shorter life expectancy.

Nevertheless, these statistics show that a single kidney can slowly begin to deteriorate over the course of a lifetime. While children may show normal kidney function, the lifestyle of an adult with alcohol, smoking, medications, obesity, malnourishment, little exercise and poor dietary choices takes its toll.

There is only one kidney to handle all the waste products, acids, toxins, and fluids that the body has to process. To compensate, the remaining kidney nearly doubles in size. I dont know about you, but that really knocked me when I learned that!

Luckily, the kidney handles all this added pressure beautifully. Under normal circumstances when subjected to a healthy lifestyle, there is no reason for one kidney not being able to do the job of two. Its an amazingly resilient organ. Put too much pressure on it, ask too much of it, and it will eventually wear out.

What Is The First Stage Of Kidney Failure

The progression of chronic kidney disease is divided into stages. The stage you are in depends on how much damage your kidneys have suffered and how well they are working. The first stage can be so mild that it doesn’t affect how your kidneys function at all. It can get worse if left untreated, however.

Your doctor can determine your stage of disease by conducting blood and urine tests. The stages include:

Stage 1

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Managing Stress And Negative Feelings

Maintain the activities in life that bring you pleasure. Don’t let dialysis prevent you from doing things you love to do. As much as possible, keep up the hobbies and interests you had before dialysis, even if you have to adapt them somewhat to your dialysis schedule or health condition. If you can, continue working. Socialize with friends. People who make a point to go on with life as usual, despite dialysis, tend to be happier and healthier.

Educate yourself. Gather information and ask questions to help you understand the dialysis treatment and the lifestyle changes that go along with it. Your healthcare providers are learning from you, too. Keep a list of your questions and bring them to your doctor appointments and keep a notebook of important information so you have all your medical information in one place. Having all the necessary details will help you maintain a sense of control over your health.

Stay connected to other people. Reach out for support from your spouse/partner, family and friends. Be open with them about what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Explain to others what you need your loved ones probably want to help, but they may not know how unless you tell them.

Give back. Continuing to be helpful to those you love, volunteering your time or doing charitable work can help remind you that you have valuable skills to offer, even if you can no longer work or take on as many commitments as you once did.

Whats It Like To Live With One Kidney

Real unicorns only need one kidney organ donor living donor

Most people have two kidneys, but some only have one. There are three main reasons why this could be:

  • A person is born with only one kidney.

  • About one in 750 people is born with only one kidney. The medical term for this condition, which is more common in men than women, is renal agenesis. Usually its the left kidney that is missing. Because it is possible to be healthy with one kidney, some people dont find out they have one missing until its discovered on an X-ray or sonogram.

  • A kidney has been removed due to health problems.

  • A nephrectomy the surgical removal of a kidney can be necessary if a kidney has been damaged by cancer or another disease, or injured in an accident.

  • A person donates a kidney.

  • Every year, thousands of people donate one of their kidneys to someone in need of a healthy one. The recipient is often a blood relative or someone whos close to the donor, such as a spouse or friend. Approximately 87,000 kidneys from living donors were donated from 1988-2008.

  • What precautions should people take if they have one kidney?

    Much of the advice that applies to living with one kidney goes for everybody: eat right, exercise, sustain a healthy weight, stay hydrated and get regular doctor checkups. However, there are special precautions that should be taken by someone living with a single kidney:

    What happens if the kidney starts to fail?

    Symptoms of kidney failure include:

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    Are Dietary Changes Needed

    In general, people with one healthy kidney dont need special diets. However, its always good to:

    • have a healthy well-balanced diet
    • reduce your salt intake

    Dietary restrictions arent usually necessary for people who have received a transplanted kidney but its still worth following a healthy diet and watching your salt intake. However, you will probably be advised to avoid fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice because they can interfere with certain medications. If you are advised by your kidney consultant to make specific changes to your diet, ask to be referred to the renal dietitian and follow their advice.

    For more information about diet and kidney disease take a look at our dietary hints and tips.

    Cancer Affecting Both Kidneys

    Rarely, people get cancer in both kidneys. Once youve had cancer in one kidney, there is a slightly increased chance of getting cancer in the other kidney.

    You can have both kidneys removed if necessary. But your surgeon will try to remove only the tumours and leave enough working kidney tissue to keep you healthy.

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    Will You Need Dialysis

    Dialysis performs the function of your kidney by filtering your blood and removing waste and extra fluid. Its only done when youve temporarily or permanently lost most or all of your kidney function.

    According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis should be started only if your kidneys have lost 85 to 90 percent of their function. Since you usually have nearly normal kidney function when you have one kidney, you wont need dialysis unless your kidney fails.

    You should see your healthcare provider at least once a year to evaluate your single kidney. If a problem develops, you should be checked more often.

    Two tests are used to evaluate your kidney function:

    • The glomerular filtration rate indicates how well your kidneys are filtering blood. Its calculated using the creatinine level in your blood.
    • The amount of protein in your urine is measured to determine if the filters in your kidney are damaged and leaky. High levels of protein in your urine is a sign of kidney dysfunction.

    Your blood pressure also must be measured.

    High blood pressure can be a sign of kidney dysfunction. It can also damage the blood vessels in your kidney, which can make kidney dysfunction worse.

    Lifestyle changes and medication can lower your blood pressure and avoid further kidney damage.

    200,000 people in the United States have a functioning transplanted kidney.

    If your solitary kidney gets injured or sick and stops working, you might be eligible for a transplant.

    Signs You May Need Help

    Kidney transplants: An expert’s guide – Online interview

    It’s normal to feel sad while adjusting to the changes that dialysis brings. But for some people, the sadness lingers. Studies suggest that approximately 1 in 5 patients with chronic kidney disease suffer from depression. Anxiety is also common in people with chronic illness. A 2008 study found that 45 percent of people receiving dialysis for end-stage renal disease experienced some type of anxiety disorder.

    You might need extra help managing your emotions if you notice you are:

    • Feeling hopeless
    • Often very stressed or worried
    • Sleeping more or less than you used to
    • Frequently irritable with friends and family
    • Withdrawing from people or activities you used to enjoy
    • Doing things you know aren’t healthy, like skipping medications
    • Making excuses for not following doctor’s recommendations

    If you’re concerned about your emotional state or your stress levels, there are people who can help. The doctors and mental health professionals at your dialysis clinic are trained to discuss these concerns with you and help you manage them. They can also provide you with resources and referrals to local mental health providers in your community that can help.

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    How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Kidney Transplant

    The length of recovery after a kidney transplant depends on many factors such as:

    • Type of transplant procedure
    • Acceptance of the new kidney by the body

    Each patient may have a different speed of recovery. After the procedure, the patient is shifted to a recovery area where the nurses and doctors observe for signs of complications or organ rejection. The patient is usually discharged from the hospital after a few days or a week and only after the surgeon and transplant team have checked their progress, strength and overall health.

    The new kidney will start to make urine like the older ones when they were healthy. Mostly, this occurs immediately but in some cases, it can take a few days. If this happens, patients are temporarily put on dialysis until the new kidney starts to function normally.

    The kidney transplant doctor will discuss precautions, such as no lifting heavy objects weighing more than 10 pounds or doing exercise until the wound has healed. It usually takes about six weeks after the surgery.

    The recovery may take some time, but the ultimate results after the transplant are highly satisfactory. The transplant will allow you to have a normal active life, independence from the dialysis and restrictions with diet associated with it.

    The anti-rejection medications may have some side effects and you must contact your transplant team immediately in case you experience any of the following:

    • Thinning of bone or bone damage
    • High blood pressure
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    What’s It Like Living With One Kidney

    You will live the same kind of healthy life you would live with two kidneys. You could even live with a single kidney for most of your life without noticing unless the condition is detected at birth. People with one kidney show no symptoms at all, and you may only discover it through an x-ray, ultrasound, or surgery for an unrelated condition.

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    When Should I Go To The Doctor

    You should visit a doctor if you present signs of kidney disease. These include:

    • Swelling in the arms or feet

    • Frequent or less frequent urination

    These signs are nonspecific and may point to another disease. Therefore, it is prudent to visit a doctor as they will be able to diagnose the underlying condition.

    You should also visit a doctor if you experience bleeding, a bladder infection, or a hernia following surgery for the transplant.

    The anti-rejection medication given after a transplant may have serious side effects. You should thus visit your doctor if you experience high blood pressure, cataracts, diabetes, increased stomach acids, and bone disease, as these could be side effects.

    Generally, you should see your doctor at least once annually for an evaluation of your single kidney and more often if you have been diagnosed with a kidney problem.

    Am I At Risk For Kidney Problems

    My Daughter Only Has One Kidney

    These treatments for childhood cancer can cause problems in your remaining kidney:

    • radiation to the kidney, abdomen, or whole body
    • certain chemotherapy medicines, such as cisplatin, carboplatin, methotrexate, and ifosfamide
    • certain antibiotics used to treat bacterial and fungal infection, such as tobramycin, gentamicin, and amphotericin
    • certain medicines used to treat graft-versus-host disease, such as cyclosporine and FK-506

    Other factors that can increase your risk for kidney problems include:

    • medical conditions that may affect the kidney, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and a tumor involving the kidney
    • history of urinary tract problems, such as frequent urinary tract infections, back-flow of urine into the kidney , or other urinary tract abnormalities
    • removal of the bladder

    If you are at risk for kidney problems, see the related Health Link: Kidney Health after Childhood Cancer.

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