Showing posts from August, 2013

Is it safe for me to donate a kidney? What kind of problems can I expect?

This is one the commonest questions that I get as a nephrologist. The typical situation is a patient with advanced kidney disease that I see in the office. The patient is accompanied by a family member who is eager to donate their kidney to the patient, but is concerned about any potential health pitfalls. 
Assuming you have a donor who is willing to donate you their kidney and is fit to do so (I covered the steps involved in kidney transplantation and the prerequisites for a potential donor here), the donor as well as you would need to be aware of what donation entails, and what, if any, future health consequences can they expect. So assuming the potential donor has no major contraindications to kidney donation (these will include impaired kidney function, active infections, cancers, chronic lung/heart/liver/autoimmune disease, substance abuse, pregnancy, etc.), this is what they could expect:

What is dialysis? How does a dialysis machine work?

When patients develop advanced kidney disease, medically called stage 5 CKD, they could begin to develop symptoms or signs of kidney failure, called uremia. Up to a certain point, your nephrologist will try and treat these complications medically as much as possible. However, as kidney disease progresses, the symptoms may no longer be amenable to medical treatment. At this point, you will need either dialysis or a kidney transplant.