Scouting For A Kidney

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Kidneys; the body’s filter

June 21st, 2015 - Char

The human kidney is the body’s filter. It cleans 180 liters of liquid per day, retaining the good stuff and expelling the bad. We are born with two kidneys. If one of them becomes damaged, the other one can pick up the slack. If both your kidneys fail, however, your body will fill with harmful toxins. Without medical intervention, you’ll die within weeks.

Almost nine hundred thousand Americans suffer from End State Renal Disease (ESRD), meaning that both their kidneys have failed. In the last 15 years, science has technically triumphed over kidney failure. If both your kidneys fail, you can receive a transplant from a donor and live a fairly normal life. The technology for kidney transplants has gotten so good that the donor and recipient need to share the same blood type and a few antigens. Surgeons and anti-rejection drugs can handle the rest. Since almost everyone has a spare kidney, the supply of potential donors is plentiful.

In the United States, over 20 million people have some sort of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Approximately 871,000 Americans suffer from the most severe form of chronic kidney disease, End State Renal Disease. Roughly one half (398,000) of these patients are on dialysis each year. It costs approximately $75K a year to keep each of these patients alive.

Chronic kidney failure is measured in five stages, which are calculated using a patient’s GFR, or glomerular filtration rate. Stage 1 CKD is mildly diminished renal function, with few overt symptoms. Stages 2 and 3 need increasing levels of supportive care from their medical providers to slow and treat their renal dysfunction. Patients in stages 4 and 5 usually require preparation of the patient towards active treatment in order to survive. Stage 5 CKD is considered a severe illness and requires some form of renal replacement therapy (dialysis) or kidney transplant whenever feasible.

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    Weston and Laura Hamaker
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