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What is it like to live with one kidney?

Home / What is it like to live with one kidney?

What is it like to live with one kidney?

Have you ever wondered, what is it like to donate your kidney to someone, someone that matters to you? It is a very common say that you can live a perfectly normal life with just one kidney. The remaining kidney can take up the part of work of the donated kidney. Apparently, you can possible do everything you normally do with one kidney; exercise, travel, eat, don’t take medicine. But apart from all these things we all know two working kidneys are always better than one functional kidney. It is important to realize the necessity of maintaining the health of a kidney when you only have one. This blog is all about the life of a person with one kidney. Be it because of a donation or as a condition by birth, this is what it is like to live with one kidney.

What can cause a person to have only one kidney?

  • Condition by birth: there are two situations in which a person can have only one countable kidney by birth.
  • The newborn is suffering from a condition in which only one kidney develops
  • The newborn suffering from a condition in which there is one abnormal and one functional kidney
  • Surgery: When a person develops some disease such as cancer on the kidney, there comes a point where that kidney needs to be removed. This can leave a person with only one kidney. Not removing the diseased kidney can lead to the spread of that disease to the other kidney, thus putting the health of the other kidney in danger.
  • Donation: When you know a person with a need of kidney transplantation, you might be a viable candidate to donate a kidney to them. If they are significant enough for you, you might even consider donating. This leaves you with an option to live with one kidney only. Statistically, almost 28,000 kidney donations occur every year worldwide. So you might not be the only one in this situation but the important thing is to be aware of the consequences, if there are any.

Complications in people with only one kidney

In addition to the urine formation kidneys also help in maintaining certain hormone levels of the body. Due to this the functionality of kidney spreads to other areas health management. Therefore, it can sometimes become complicated to live with only one kidney. Some of these complications are:

  • Your single kidney can take longer time to filter the waste from the blood in comparison to what it takes by two kidneys. This condition is due to the lowered GFR. In some cases, this condition can develop into the condition of kidney failure
  • It is very common in people with one kidney to have increased protein in their urine
  • Fluctuating blood pressure can be a direct outcome of reduced kidney function

As already said two functional kidneys are always better than one kidney but the complications stated above are more commonly seen in people who suffer from solitary kidney because of surgery or by birth. People who donate their kidney, are seen to rarely develop any of these complications

Doctor’s advice to people with one kidney

You might find it an interesting fact that most of the recommendations for people with only one kidney are the same as people with two kidneys. The only thing is that people with one kidney must take these healthy advises more seriously. Some of the important things to follow are:

  • Be extremely serious about your dietary timings.
  • Remain hydrated. It’s not about drinking gallons of water once but to maintain your hydration throughout the day
  • Exercise every day
  • Regulate your blood sugar levels. Remain as far as possible from diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Eat healthy

Three of the most important precautions to be taken for people with one kidney are:

  • Prevent yourself from injuries
  • Do not take medications on your own and avoid painkillers specifically
  • Never avoid regular checkups from your doctors



There is always a probable cause for every step that your doctor takes before you undergo procedures. The extensive tests taken before your donation are to evaluate your risk of developing kidney problems in the future. Doctors mainly look at your age, current health, and possibility of you developing any post-surgical complications in the future. These tests have resulted in finding the candidates who really are viable for donating a kidney. This is the reason kidney donors are unlikely to develop any complication with only one kidney. Other than donation there are conditions in which people can end up with only one kidney. If you are a person who comes under this category, it is of the utmost importance that you should consult your doctor as having only one kidney can affect you majorly, if not properly managed.

To know more you can contact Alfa Kidney care