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How To Live With Only One Kidney

What Is An Organ Transplant

Living with one kidney
  • Based on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Health, approximately 200 000 people who have Trusted the Source across the United States have a functioning kidney transplant.
  • The procedure of a kidney transplant is only possible if you cannot function kidneys. The risk of this procedure and the adverse side effects of the drugs youll require for the rest of your life far outweigh the slight improvement in functionality you can expect from the transplant of a second kidney.
  • If your kidney is damaged or ill and stops functioning, you may be able to receive a transplant.
  • Whatever number of kidneys you have at the beginning, it is just one kidney during the process of a transplant. The kidney that is transplanted usually becomes larger and stronger with time. Then, the kidney you transplanted will function as effectively as two kidneys.

Your Kid Can Still Be A Kid

Luckily, the kidneys are located in the middle of the back, tucked up under the ribcage. If your childs kidney is in this normal spot, it is well-protectedand not easily injured.

Your child can still run, ride a bike, play on the playground and do other normal activities. No special diet is needed, either. Check with your doctor for specific advice, but in general, let your kid be a kid!

Diet After Kidney Donation

The recovery time for a kidney donor varies, but most people will spend two to four days in the hospital and about a week recovering at home. Most donors will feel well enough to resume their normal lives after two to four weeks, though donors should not drive or lift heavy items for some time.

The National Kidney Foundation says that most kidney donors won’t need to follow a specific diet, but you can discuss dietary concerns with your doctor 26. Right after surgery, you’ll likely be restricted to water and clear liquids until any nausea dissipates.

After the typical in-hospital surgery recovery time for a kidney donor of one to two days, you should be able to eat normally. You can also discuss any worries about your diet with your doctor before or after a kidney donation surgery.

In some cases, doctors will advise people with one kidney to avoid contact sports in order to avoid injuring the solitary kidney. Sports restrictions with one kidney include football, hockey, martial arts, soccer and wrestling. While serious kidney injuries from these sports are not common, its important to weigh the risks and benefits.

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All Development During Pregnancy

Researcher of the SOFIA study is PhD student Sander Groen in ‘t Woud. ‘We want to find out the causes of a solitary functioning kidney, as well as map out the prognosis. Kidneys are already fully developed at birth, all they do is grow. You don’t get any more kidney filters. So development during pregnancy is all-important. What mechanisms determine kidney development? Environmental factors or hereditary factors? And how do they relate to each other? We study both elements.’

The Remaining Kidney Will Have To Work Much Harder

Can You Live with Just One Kidney?

When a person only has one kidney, that kidney has to work much harder than if the person had two kidneys.

The remaining kidney needs to filtrate all of the blood in the body, which is a lot of work. Because of this, people who only have one kidney are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and kidney disease.

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Biobank For Research Into Congenital Disorders

For his research, Sander Groen in ‘t Woud scoured the entire country looking for children with a single kidney. He found almost a thousand of them. Their data is stored in the AGORA data and biobank at Radboud university medical center, coordinated by Groen in ‘t Woud and fellow researcher Loes van der Zanden. She explains: ‘In AGORA biobank we collect data from children and adults with various congenital disorders, for example of the lip and palate or the heart. But the largest group is children with kidney or urinary tract disorders.

Keeping Your Single Kidney Healthy

Treatment for childhood cancer sometimes requires the removal of one kidney. You can live a normal life with one kidney, as long as it remains healthy. Heres what you need to know to assess your risk for problems with your single kidney and to help keep it as healthy as possible.

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How Is A Single Kidney Different

It needs more protection. Single normal kidneys tend to grow faster and get larger than normally paired kidneys. For this reason, single kidneys can be more vulnerable to injury especially from certain heavy contact sports.

Transplanted kidneys are also less protected than other kidneys because they are usually placed into the pelvis.

So if you have one functioning kidney it may be advisable to avoid sports including:

  • boxing
  • wrestling

If you still want to participate in these sports make sure you are extra careful and always wear protective padding but always seek medical advice first.

How Is An Egfr Test Different From A Basic Or Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Test

Can You Live With One Kidney?

Both the basic metabolic panel and comprehensive metabolic panel are blood tests that help to assess how well the kidneys are working however, the standard version of these tests do not include a calculation of eGFR.

That said, the BMP and CMP involve a measurement of creatinine, so these tests may enable the lab or your doctor to estimate GFR.

In addition, the BMP and CMP include assessments of more than just kidney function. For example, these tests measure blood sugar and levels of electrolytes that facilitate many important processes in the body.

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Do You Have To Follow An Exclusive Diet

  • The majority of people who have a single kidney do not need to adhere to any particular diet. However, as with people who have two kidneys, you must be eating a balanced, healthy diet.
  • They are hydrated regularly, and drinking water when thirsty is better than dehydration and overhydration.
  • If you only have one kidney due to an organ transplant or have kidney disease, you may have to limit the amounts of sodium, phosphorus, and protein you consume.
  • The reason is that the kidney cant remove the blood-borne substances efficiently, which is why they can accumulate.
  • It is also possible to limit the number of fluids you consume.
  • Consult your physician about your nutritional requirements and any dietary limitations.

What If Your Lone Kidney Fails

The following symptoms may occur if your kidney fails:

  • Body swelling

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should call your doctor. Even if your lone kidney fails, you still have two options: dialysis and a kidney transplant.

You and your doctor can decide the best options should your kidney fail, but in the meantime, you should focus on taking care of your lone kidney and keeping it healthy.

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Living With One Kidney

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the term for having only one kidney, or one working kidney, is solitary kidney 111. There are three common causes of solitary kidney 3.

Birth defects like renal agenesis or kidney dysplasia lead to solitary kidney. Renal agenesis happens in around 1 in 2,000 babies, and kidney dysplasia affects about one in 4,000 babies.

Surgical removal of a kidney to treat a disease or injury can also leave someone with just one functioning kidney. According to the Mayo Clinic, nephrectomy is one potential treatment for kidney cancer 10.

Finally, some people are eligible to donate one of their kidneys to someone in need of a transplant, leaving them with one functioning kidney. In the U.S., more than 5,000 people make a living kidney donation every year.

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  • According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  • Finally, some people are eligible to donate one of their kidneys to someone in need of a transplant, leaving them with one functioning kidney.

What Are The Complications Of A Solitary Kidney

How Can We Live With Only One Kidney?

Complications from a solitary kidney are rare but may include

  • increased protein in the urine, known as albuminuria.
  • a lower-than-normal glomerular filtration rate , which measures how quickly your kidneys filter wastes and extra fluid from your blood. While less common, this complication can at times lead to kidney failure.
  • high blood pressure.
  • high blood pressure during pregnancy. This complication less commonly results in organ damage in the mother or child, a condition known as preeclampsia.

People with kidney agenesis or kidney dysplasia can be at an increased risk for developing kidney disease. For example, if your solitary kidney functioned normally during childhood, you still have an increased risk of having decreased kidney function as an adult.4,5

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There May Be A Need For Dialysis Or A Kidney Transplant

When both kidneys are removed, either dialysis or a kidney transplant will be required in order to filter the blood. Dialysis is a process of filtering blood artificially, and it can be quite difficult to live with.

The preferred option is a kidney transplant as it provides a much better quality of life. A kidney transplant is a surgery that replaces a damaged or diseased kidney with a healthy one.

The Kidneys Of Your One Is Protected From Injury

If you only have one kidney, harming it can be a significant issue because theres no other kidney to help. If the injury is severe and your kidney ceases to function completely, it will require dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.

To prevent this from happening to avoid, its essential to safeguard your kidneys from damage. Beware of contact-based sports, which may cause kidney damage. They include:

  • boxing
  • bungee jumping
  • Skydiving

In the long-term in the long run, unless your kidney gets damaged, the losing function in the single kidney is typically minimal and not noticeable.

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The Reasons For Having One Kidney

There are several reasons that you could have one kidney. This includes:

  • The only thing you were born with was one kidney.
  • A portion of one or more kidneys has been taken out to treat a medical problem or injury.
  • Youve received an organ transplant.
  • You have donated a kidney to someone who required an organ transplant.
  • There are also two kidneys, but only one of the functions in the same way as having only one kidney.
  • One of the significant differences in the results from having one kidney is related to the fact that you may have been born with only one kidney or been deprived or donated one.
  • If you are born with only one kidney, this single kidney is responsible for both kidneys as early as day one. It can eventually grow to become a more significant and more efficient kidney.
  • If the kidney is taken away or given, the left kidney does not respond, so the kidneys overall function decreases by about half.

Is Drinking A Lot Of Water Good For Your Kidneys

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Water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys, and deliver essential nutrients to them. But if you become dehydrated, then it is more difficult for this delivery system to work.

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Can A Person With One Kidney Participate In Sports

Physical exercise is healthy and good for you. However, it’s important for someone with only one kidney to be careful and protect it from injury. This recommendation applies to anyone with a single kidney, including people who were born with one kidney and people with a kidney transplant. Some doctors think it is best to avoid contact sports like football, boxing, hockey, soccer, martial arts, or wrestling.

Wearing protective gear such as padded vests under clothing can help protect the kidney from injury during sports. This can help lessen the risk, but it won’t take away the risk. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to join in contact sports. You should always think about the risks involved in any activity, and carefully consider whether the risks outweigh the benefits.

What If I Was Born With Only One Working Kidney

In general, most people with a single, healthy kidney have few problems. However, some long term problems have been seen in some people.

In some people who were born with a single kidney, or had a kidney removed during childhood, there is a chance of some slight loss in kidney function later in life. This usually takes 25 years or more to happen. There may also be a chance of having high blood pressure later in life. However, the loss in kidney function is usually very mild, and life span is normal. Most people with one kidney live healthy, normal lives with few problems.

In other words, one healthy kidney can work as well as two.

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Estimating Kidney Function In The Aging Adult

Srinivas Subramanian, MD, Sunil Dhar, MD, Francia Rojas-Delgado, MD, Madhu Kandarpa, MD, Kiran Samindla, MD, and Eric Bloom, MD

Citation:Subramanian S, Dhar S, Rojas-Delgado F, Kandarpa M, Samindla K, Bloom E. Estimating kidney function in the aging adult. Clin Geriatr. 2009 17.


It is expected that 1 in 5 persons will be elderly by the year 2030.1 Chronic kidney disease is an important problem in the elderly and is associated with a high risk of kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and death.2 Among persons age 60-69 years, approximately 18% have albuminuria and 7% have an estimated glomerular filtration rate of less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. In persons age 70 years or older, those percentages increase to 30% and 26%, respectively.3 The severity of CKD can be classified according to the level of the GFR, regardless of the cause, as follows3:

Stage 1: Kidney damage with a normal or increased GFRStage 2: Kidney damage with a mild decrease in GFRStage 3: A moderate decrease in GFRStage 4: A severe decrease in GFRStage 5: Kidney failure

According to the National Kidney Foundation, the average estimated GFR in different age groups is3:

  • Age 20-29: 116 mL/min/1.73 m2
  • Age 30-39: 107 mL/min/1.73 m2
  • Age 40-49: 99 mL/min/1.73 m2
  • Age 50-59: 93 mL/min/1.73 m2
  • Age 60-69: 85 mL/min/1.73 m2
  • Age 70 years and older: 75 mL/min/1.73 m2

The following case reveals the dilemma that clinicians face when attempting to accurately estimate kidney function in the elderly patient.

What Can I Do To Keep My Kidney Healthy

Living Life With Only One Kidney

Follow these tips to help keep your kidney healthy:

  • Drink plenty of water, especially when playing sports, while out in the sun, and during hot weather.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal medicine. Make sure that they know that you have only one kidney.
  • Use pain or fever medicine that contains aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen with caution. These drugs, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , can cause kidney damage, especially when taken in high doses or when two or more are taken with caffeine or codeine over long periods of time. If you need long-term medicine for pain, talk with your doctor about treatment options that wont harm your kidneys.

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One Kidney Can’t Hurt

In the Netherlands, fifty to eighty children are born with a solitary functioning kidney every year. For a long time it was thought that having one kidney can do no harm. In fact, each year an average of 500 people donate their kidney to a neighbor or stranger. They generally live on without complications. There was no reason to assume that this would be different for a congenital solitary functioning kidney. But PhD research by Michiel Schreuder, now Professor of Pediatric Nephrology at Radboud university medical center, showed that a solitary functioning kidney from birth does have major consequences in some people.

Clinical Importance Of The Gfr

Trends in the GFR provide us with an overview of how the kidneys are functioning. A decrease or decline in the GFR implies progression of underlying kidney disease or the occurrence of a superimposed insult to the kidneys. This is most commonly due to problems such as dehydration and volume loss. An improvement in the GFR may indicate that the kidneys are recovering some of their function. Whereas we might deduce that a stable GFR implies stable disease, this is not always the case. There is not a directly proportional relationship between the loss of kidney function and loss of kidney mass. The kidney can compensate for loss in renal function by increasing its reabsorption in the remaining nephrons, thus temporarily maintaining a particular GFR value. With a reduction in the GFR, the elimination of waste products such as urea and creatinine is impaired. Failure to adjust doses of drugs that are excreted by the kidneys such as aminoglycoside antibiotics and heparins may lead to toxic levels of these drugs accumulating.

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