Can you live with one kidney? : Consequences of kidney donation

Although most people have two kidneys, one is plenty for a reasonably active lifestyle. It is possible to live with one kidney and, according to some sources, to live longer than the general population on average. What are the drawbacks and implications of having only one kidney?

Living with one kidney is possible, as it reduces the number of kidney tissues by half and takes over 50% of the function of the missing organ. It is possible regardless of whether the person was born without a kidney or donated an organ for transplantation.

Learn more at Physical consequences of kidney donation

How long can you live with one kidney?

Kidney donors live longer than other people due to their health and constant medical care, but it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Limitations of living with one kidney. What can’t you do?

Most people with one kidney can live a regular, healthy life as they did before surgery. Of course, you should be aware that you will be subjected to regular checkups, particularly for the assessment of kidney function. The limits are mostly linked to the lengthy healing period following surgery. You should rest for a bit before gradually returning to full activity. Contact activities that might cause kidney damage, such as boxing, football, and martial arts, are discouraged. Damage to a single kidney can be avoided by avoiding dangerous situations.

Recommendations for living with one kidney

People living with one kidney are advised to follow the principles of a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to reduce the chances of developing obesity, diabetes, or hypertension. These illnesses promote the failure of the remaining kidney.

The main recommendations are: 

  • healthy diet,
  • proper hydration of the body,
  • regular physical activity,
  • taking care of proper blood pressure and sugar concentration – control tests,
  • regular visits to the doctor,
  • prevention of abdominal injuries,
  • avoiding medications that may be harmful to the kidneys. 

Consequences of kidney donation

The risk of developing kidney failure in people with one kidney is slightly higher than in people with two, but it is still low.

Moderate proteinuria affects 25% to 35% of donors and does not worsen over time. A tiny number of people have persistent discomfort as a result of kidney removal surgery. The healing period following the treatment lasts several weeks.

There is no evidence that becoming a donor is linked to the development of other diseases. Blood pressure may rise in adults over the age of 50 who ingest an excessive amount of salt. In this scenario, limiting salt is the best strategy.

A kidney donor may become pregnant and give birth to a healthy child. There is no evidence that kidney removal has a negative impact on fertility or the health of the pregnant woman or fetus. Despite a slightly increased risk of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

Nearly 90% of donors say their health hasn’t changed at all, and 96% say they’d donate again if they could. There is an enhancement in well-being, a boost in self-esteem, and a sense of more value in over 50% of donors. Relationships among family members strengthen as well.

Living with one kidney. What is the donor entitled to?

A person who donates a kidney is entitled to the designation “Distinguished Transplant Donor” as well as the opportunity to seek outpatient health care in their own right. This badge, along with the ID card, is handed over formally by the Minister of Health or a person authorized by him. Regular check-ups at the Nephrology Clinic are also available to kidney donors.

Does having one kidney make one disabled?

Having one kidney is not a contraindication to work, if the remaining kidney functions properly, therefore, a certificate of disability is not issued for this reason .


Kidney pain is a sign of many diseases. How to recognise the cause and what to do?

Kidney pain can occur on one or both sides of the back. It can sometimes be seen radiating. Pain in the kidney (or both kidneys) can be excruciating, making movement difficult. When it is present along with additional symptoms like fever, weakness, or urination issues, it is a sign of illness. Nephritis, kidney stones, cysts, tumours, and other conditions can all cause kidney pain.

The kidneys can be found on both sides of the spine, between the thoracic and lumbar regions, beneath the liver, and behind the stomach. Kidney pain is frequently confused with pain in the spine, specifically the cross or lumbar region. Kidney pain usually begins on one side, either the left or right, and radiates inward, usually horizontally. When it comes to the spine, however, it spreads vertically towards the neck or legs and is also felt as numbness.

Kidney pain is typically throbbing, colic-like, and paroxysmal, and is sometimes caused by pressure associated with urinary retention. The back pain is rather monotonous. Kidney pain occurs for no apparent reason (the exception is freezing, chilling). Making the correct diagnosis can be difficult, so when in pain, it is best to consult a doctor.

Differences between kidney pain and back pain

CriteriaKidney painSpine pain
Pain localizationthe middle and sides of the back,
it radiates horizontally
usually the middle or lower back,
it radiates vertically
Features of painpiercing, throbbingdull, monotonous
The cause of the painusually for no apparent reasonafter lifting weights,
after sitting or standing for a long time

Symptoms of kidney diseases

Kidney pain is usually the result of a medical problem that requires attention. The kidneys are a vital organ in the body that performs numerous functions. They filter and purify the blood, as well as balance the water, calcium-phosphate, sodium, and potassium. The kidneys produce compounds that regulate blood pressure and help form red blood cells. When they malfunction, problems can spread to other organs.

In addition to back pain , kidney disease also causes other symptoms, such as:

  • pain below the ribs that worsens with movement
  • general malaise – drowsiness, apathy, hyperactivity,
  • fever, headache , smell of ammonia from the mouth, vomiting ,
  • oliguria, lack of urine,
  • burning when urinating,
  • cloudy urine with an intense, unpleasant odor,
  • bloody or dark colored urine
  • increased blood pressure
  • swelling of the limbs ( leg swelling ) and around the eyes.

Causes of kidney pain

  • Renal colic  ( nephrolithiasis )
  • Nephritis
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Kidney cyst
  • Kidney cancer

What to do when your kidneys hurt?

If you experience kidney pain, see your GP. If the symptoms are extremely severe, they may indicate an attack of renal colic, and in such cases, it is reasonable to call an ambulance. If there is no need for immediate intervention, the doctor will first order a general urine test , additional tests of kidney function parameters ( creatinine, urea, GFR ) and ultrasound of the kidneys and urinary system. 

In some cases, other imaging tests (X-ray, CT scan) will be necessary, and sometimes also a kidney biopsy. Depending on the diagnosis, the next steps may vary. It must be remembered that kidney pain is a symptom, so it is not the cause that should be treated, but the cause, i.e. the actual disease. Untreated kidney disease can lead to life-threatening consequences, including: to complete destruction of the organ. Then the only solution m

Symptoms indicative of kidney disease

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from kidney diseases but they do not know it.

According to experts, there are many signs of kidney disease, but many times people consider it to be the result of another disease.

According to him, there are some kidney problems in which there are no symptoms during the initial stages.

By the way, kidney diseases are known from the test, but experts have told some common symptoms that point to it.

People with high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of kidney failure in the family or those over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of kidney disease.

So they need to be aware of these symptoms.

Due to excessive fatigue, lack of physical energy and inability to concentrate

, the function of the kidneys starts accumulating toxic materials in the body and affects the blood.

As a result, the patient experiences fatigue, weakness and difficulty concentrating.

People with kidney disease may also experience anemia, which also affects symptoms such as weakness and fatigue.

Difficulties in sleeping

When kidney function is affected, toxic material remains present in the blood instead of coming out of the body.

This makes it difficult to get sleep at night. Similarly, there is a link between obesity and chronic kidney diseases, due to which people suffering from kidney disease face difficulties in breathing during sleep.

Dry and itchy skin

kidneys are healthy, they do many important functions, such as removing excess fluid and waste from the body, helping to create red blood cells and keep bones strong.

Dry and itchy skin may indicate minerals and bone diseases, which are encountered in kidney diseases, because the kidneys cannot maintain the balance of minerals and nutrients in the blood.

Urinating more than usual

If urinating more than usual, especially at night, it can also be a sign of kidney disease.

When the kidneys are damaged, the urge to urinate increases.

Blood in the Urine

Healthy kidneys retain blood cells in the body by filtering waste, but if the kidneys are damaged, blood cells can leak from urine.

Bleeding in the urine can be a sign of kidney disease as well as tumor, kidney disease or any other disease.

Foam in the urine

The appearance of too many bubbles in the urine can also be a sign of kidney disease, this foam indicates the release of protein.

Swelling of the eyes

The release of protein through urine is an early sign of damage to the kidney filters.

Protein excretion also swells the part around the eyes, which suggests that high amounts of protein are being excreted through the urine.

Swelling of the ankles and feet

Reduce kidney function increases the level of salinity in the body, which causes the feet and ankles to swell.

But these symptoms are not limited to kidney disease, but are also seen in heart disease and liver diseases.

It is a very common sign of loss of desire to eat, but when toxic materials are collected due to kidney function, the desire to eat also ends.

Muscle spasms

impair the balance of electrolyte by affecting kidney function, for example, low calcium levels that can cause muscle spasms.

It is very easy to avoid life-threatening chronic kidney diseases.

Want to avoid painful chronic kidney diseases? So make it a habit to eat some amount of fish every week.

This was revealed in a medical study conducted in Australia.

Symptoms indicative of kidney disease

A joint study by the George Institute for Global Health and the University of New South Wales found that eating fatty fish twice a week reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease, while the functions of this organ are also not affected with age.

It is estimated that around 700 million people worldwide suffer from chronic kidney disease.

These diseases increase the risk of kidney failure and death, and often their knowledge is also very late.

This new study found that excessive use of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish helps reduce the risk of kidney problems.

Why does the severity of the disease feel worse at night when there is a cold or fever?

During the research, omega-3 fatty acids present in fruits or vegetables could not be found to reduce the risk of kidney disease.

“Although we can’t say for sure which types of fish are more helpful in preventing kidney disease, we found that high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood reduce the risk of life-threatening kidney diseases,” the researchers said.

These fatty acids are high in fish found in cold waters, he said.

What are the effects of skipping one meal a day on the body?

They said that people are already advised that eating fat fish twice a week is beneficial for health.

Earlier research on animals had shown that omega-3 fatty acids could improve kidney function, but not much work was done on humans in this regard.

That’s why the researchers examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on humans in this study.

After analyzing the results of 19 research reports in 12 countries, the researchers found that high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Scientists’ major advances, old age close to becoming a thing of the past

Taking into account age, gender, body weight, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and other factors, it was found that eating more fish reduces the risk of chronic kidney diseases by 8 to 13 percent.

Similarly, the rate of decline in kidney function also slows down.

The findings were published in the journal BMJ.

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