About Kidney Disease

Become a Living Donor

Frequently Asked Questions






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Frequently Asked Questions


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About Kidney Failure


What causes kidney failure?

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the top two causes of kidney failure. There are many other common causes which include but are not limited to: Glomerulonephritis (an inflammatory disease of the kidneys), Polycystic kidneys (cysts that grow and take over the kidneys), inflammation, blockages, hereditary conditions and many other conditions.



What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

Early in the disease most people do not have any symptoms. Symptoms often come late in kidney disease which is why it is so important to take good care of yourself and see your physician regularly.

If you have any of the following please see your doctor on a regular basis so that your kidney function can be monitored.

• Diabetes

• High Blood Pressure
• Family history of kidney disease
• Swelling of the feet and hands
• Funny taste in your mouth
• Frequency of urination
• Lower back or flank pain
• Blood in the urine


How is kidney disease diagnosed?

Kidney disease is diagnosed through blood tests most of which are often considered routine.


Are there different kinds of kidney failure?

There are two types of kidney failure - Acute and Chronic.
Acute kidney failure usually has a sudden onset and may be reversible.
Chronic kidney failure often happens over a long period of time and is generally not reversible.


What are the treatments for kidney failure?

The treatment may depend on the cause. If the cause is a chronic cause usually dialysis or a kidney transplant is required.


There are three different types of dialysis:

Hemodialysis is the most common type of dialysis that most people have heard of and is done at a
dialysis center three times a week.
Home Hemodialysis is very similar to in center hemodialysis but the patient learns how to do their own
dialysis at home. Treatments are usually performed 3 to 5 times a week.
Peritoneal Dialysis is also a home treatment that is rapidly gaining in popularity. 



About Dialysis


What will dialysis do for me?

Dialysis cleans your blood by removing excess wastes and fluids that your kidneys are no longer able to do.


How does dialysis work?

Hemodialysis- Needles are inserted each treatment into a permanent access that is usually in your arm. Your blood comes out from a needle and passes through tubing and a filter on a dialysis machine which cleans your blood then returns the clean blood through the second needle. This process takes 3-5 hours and is generally done three times a week.

Home Hemodialysis - Is very similar to in center hemodialysis but the patient learns how to insert their own needles and do their own dialysis at home. Treatments are usually performed 3 to 5 times a week.

Peritoneal dialysis- The patient has a tube called a catheter put into their abdomen. Fluid is put into their abdomen through the through this tube which draws the excess waste and fluid from their body. The waste is then drained and disposed of in the toilet. There are no needles or blood involved in this method which is often done at night while you sleep. Treatments are performed daily.


Is dialysis painful?



Are there other options other than dialysis?

Transplant is another option if you are healthy. After being evaluated the transplant team will decide if you area good candidate. If you are you will then be listed on the transplant list to wait for a kidney unless you have someone interested in donating a kidney to you.


Where is dialysis administered?

Hemodialysis is most often administered at a dialysis facility but as described above it can also be done at home.
Peritoneal Dialysis is always done at home.


About Kidney Transplant


How do I know if I qualify for a transplant?

You must be evaluated by the transplant team at a transplant center then they will decide if you are a good candidate.


How do I get on the transplant list?

Your Nephrologist can refer you to whatever transplant center you are interested in.


About Becoming a Living Donor


Why are healthy people being asked to be organ donors?

More and more people need organ transplants, but there are not enough healthy organs to meet the need. Only a few healthy organs come from accident victims. Those who are waiting for an organ transplant need healthy people to become living organ donors. Living donation is becoming much more common and accepted. For the first time last year, living donations out numbered deceased donations. Living donation is definitely a growing trend.


Can anyone be an organ donor?

Many people are asked by a loved one or a friend to be an organ donor. Others decide on their own that they wish to be organ donors. Either way, the decision should be yours alone. No one should pressure you into becoming an organ donor and the decision must be done completely voluntarily. To donate a kidney, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function and anatomy. Some people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health problems, may not be able to be organ donors. If giving an organ puts your long-term health at risk, you will not be able to be an organ donor. The transplant team will have the final say about the state of your health


Is organ donation painful?

All surgery causes pain while you recover. The amount of pain depends on the type of operation you have. Your transplant team will make sure that you have the least amount of pain and discomfort as possible. Most organ donors feel that their pain is easier to endure because they know they have helped someone to live a longer and healthier life.


Are there risks to donation?

Before you become an organ donor, the transplant team will make sure you understand the surgery. They will talk to you about all the benefits and potential risks of being a donor. You will always be able to reach the transplant team with your questions.

If the donor is overweight, he or she may need to lose weight before the transplant. If the donor eats large amounts of protein, that could be an issue as well. Check with the transplant center to see if they recommend any dietary changes. If you are in good health, there will probably not be any specific dietary restrictions.


Is there any cost to the donor/Who pays for living donor?

Please be aware, it is absolutely against the law to have any financial benefit from an organ donation. It is absolutely illegal to buy or sell a kidney. All medical expenses related to the donor are paid for by the recipient's insurance. At no time should a donor's insurance card be asked for. There is no expense to the living donor. However, there are at times non-medical expenses paid for by the recipient involved with finding a living donor. According to the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) it is legally permissible to pay for a donor's non-medical expenses that pertain to travel, food, lodging and loss of wages.


Can I donate to someone if I am not related to them?

Yes. There is just as much success with unrelated donations, as with related donations. A living donation can be made to a friend, co-worker, or anyone who is waiting for a kidney transplant (altruistic) as long as there is a match.

What blood types are compatible?

Recipient's Blood Type Donor's Blood Type
A A or O
B B or O
AB A, B, AB or O