Functions of the Kidney
The kidneys are a pair of reddish-brown organs located on either side of the spine just below the diaphragm, behind the liver and stomach. They are bean-shaped and measure about 4 and one half inches long, 2 and one half inches wide, and 1 inch thick. The primary function of the kidneys is to remove waste from the body through the production of urine. They also help to regulate blood pressure, blood volume, and the chemical (electrolyte) composition of the blood.
Renal failure is the inability of the kidneys to remove wastes and maintain electrolyte balance. Acute renal failure, characterized by inability to produce urine and an accumulation of wastes, is often associated with trauma, burns, acute infection, or obstruction of the urinary tract; its treatment depends on the cause and often includes antibiotics and reduced fluid intake. Chronic kidney failure, which may occur as a result of many systemic disorders, causes fatigue and sluggishness, diminished urine output, anemia, and often complications of hypertension and congestive heart failure. The treatment depends on the cause, often involving the use of diuretics, restricted protein intake, and, if the kidney failure cannot be otherwise treated, dialysis and/or transplantation.
Kidney Transplant Procedures
A kidney transplant may involve one or both kidneys if the donor is deceased and only one kidney if the donor is living. In most transplants, only one kidney is transplanted. But, in certain circumstances, particularly if the donor is less than ideal, two kidneys may be transplanted. There is also some experimental work being done on splitting kidneys prior to transplanting them, resulting in two recipients per kidney, but this is still extremely rare in practice.
Reasons for Kidney Transplants