Kidney Failure Facts

Kidney, or renal, failure refers to temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that results in loss of normal kidney function. Learn more about kidney failure ›

Coping with Kidney Failure

Having kidney failure means many changes in your life. It may feel like too much to cope with at times, but you can learn how to deal with these emotions and feel better about your treatment and yourself. Learning as much as you can about kidney failure is a good place to start.

Two women sitting together, talking.

Living with a medical condition like kidney failure can be very stressful. It is common at times to feel:

  • Angry and frustrated over having to depend on others.

  • Confused about all the instructions you've been given.

  • Worried about things going wrong with your treatment.

  • Hopeless and depressed about your future.

  • Unhappy with your body. Don't keep these feelings to yourself. Talk to your healthcare team and your loved ones. They may know ways to help.

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Kidney Transplantation

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure performed to replace a diseased kidney with a healthy kidney from another person. The kidney may come from a deceased donor or from a living donor. Family members or individuals who are unrelated but make a good match may be able to donate one of their kidneys. This type of transplant is called a living transplant. Individuals who donate a kidney can live healthy lives with the remaining kidney.

A person receiving a transplant usually receives only one kidney, but, in rare situations, he or she may receive two kidneys from a deceased donor. In most cases, the diseased kidneys are left in place during the transplant procedure. The transplanted kidney is implanted in the lower abdomen on the front side of the body.

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End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Renal failure refers to temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that results in loss of normal kidney function. There are two different types of renal failure--acute and chronic. Acute renal failure has an abrupt onset and is potentially reversible. Chronic renal failure progresses slowly over at least three months and can lead to permanent renal failure. The causes, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes of acute and chronic are different.

Conditions that may lead to acute or chronic renal failure may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Acute Renal Failure

Chronic Renal Failure

Myocardial infarction. A heart attack may occasionally lead to temporary kidney failure.

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Diabetic Nephropathy (Kidney Disease)

Nephropathy is the deterioration of the kidneys. The final stage of nephropathy is called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, accounting for about 44 percent of all new cases of kidney failure in 2008. In 2011, about 25.8 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and more than 202,290 people with ESRD due to diabetes were either on chronic renal dialysis or had a kidney transplant. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic nephropathy, although type 1 is more likely to lead to ESRD.

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