What's It Like to Live With One Kidney?


Quick Answer

Most people with one kidney live normal, healthy lives, reports the National Kidney Foundation. However, people may see a slight loss in kidney function as they age or find that they are at greater risk for high blood pressure. Having one kidney does not affect a person's life span.

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Full Answer

Most people with one kidney fall into one of three categories, according to the National Kidney Foundation. They may have renal agenesis, a condition that causes them to be born with only one kidney. A patient may have had his kidney removed because of a disease. Finally, he may have donated his kidney to someone else.

If there is only one kidney, a phenomenon known as compensatory or regenerative growth occurs, states the National Kidney Foundation. The lone kidney grows until it is almost the size of two kidneys, either because the cells divide more or grow larger. This also occurs among transplanted kidneys. One kidney can work as efficiently as two.

While it is safe for patients with one kidney to exercise, the National Kidney Foundation cautions that they must be careful to protect the remaining kidney, either by wearing extra padding or avoiding contact sports. People who are born with one kidney or donate a kidney do not have dietary restrictions, but people who have lost a kidney to kidney disease or cancer need to consult a doctor.

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