A pair of kidneys is an indispensable component of the human anatomy. Located at the rear end of the abdominal cavity, the main function of these bean-shaped organs is to filter the blood in the human body. This is done through nephrons, which are microscopic filters for blood. Each kidney contains millions of units of nephrons. Apart from this, the kidneys diligently remove wastes, control the body fluid balance and regulate the balance of electrolytes.
As with all organs of the human body, kidneys can be plagued with several diseases. While some of them can be treated with medication and changes in diet or lifestyle, advanced diseases such as End-Stage Renal Disease or kidney failure require more serious treatments. The kidneys in End-Stage Renal function so poorly that it cannot be reversed and is no longer capable of keeping one alive. In such situations, the only option is a kidney transplant.
It has been noted that there are two types of kidney failure. The first is acute kidney failure that occurs in response to severe illness in another body system or kidneys. This acute kidney failure may escalate very quickly and can cause major damage to the kidneys. It is a common occurrence for patients that are hospitalized for reasons other than kidney problems. The risk of acute kidney failure is heightened for those patients who are receiving intensive care.
The second type of kidney failure is a prolonged, chronic kidney disease caused by long-term diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure. This type of failure is a result of gradual deterioration in the health of one’s kidneys, thus leading to permanent kidney failure. Hereditary kidney problems are common and can be a cause for kidney failure as well. In some cases, substances such as excessive antibiotics, cyclosporine, heroin, other drugs, and toxins can create irreversible damage to the kidneys; resulting in failure.
There are varying symptoms of kidney failure depending upon the cause of failure, the severity of the condition, and other body systems affected. Usually, the symptoms reveal themselves only after the condition has become severe or critical. Most cases of kidney failure depict mild or vague symptoms in the early stages. Some common symptoms are fluid retention leading to puffiness or swelling of arms and legs and shortness of breath. Decreasing frequency of urination, bleeding due to impaired clotting, fatigue, nausea, and easy bruising are other common symptoms of kidney failure.
Kidney transplantation is the process of removing the failed kidney in a human body and replacing it with a new, fully functioning kidney. A kidney transplant requires a healthy, consenting person willing to donate their kidney to the patient. This person is known as the donor. It may take a long period of time to locate such a donor and in many cases, this has taken an immense amount of patience and strength on the part of the patient and their loved ones.
While the procedure of transplant is not very challenging, the most critical part of a kidney transplant is to prevent rejection of the graft kidney. This can be controlled by a combination of drugs as prescribed by the doctor. Therefore, the prognosis of a kidney transplant is extremely important. Patients must constantly follow up with their doctor to monitor the progress of the transplant and ensure that there are no complications.
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