Kidney Care Council Kideny Learning Center

Kidney Disease

Kidneys perform crucial functions. They filter blood and remove toxins and extra fluids from the body. The wastes come from a breakdown of the food that someone consumes that normally is filtered through urine. When kidneys do not remove the toxins and extra fluids, the wastes build up in the blood. This can become a life threatening situation. Common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. When kidneys fail, the blood must be regularly cleansed of toxins and extra fluids by:

  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal Dialysis, or by receiving a
  • Kidney Transplant

Hemodialysis (HD):

This treatment involves cleaning the patient’s blood of harmful toxins and excess fluids using an artificial kidney (dialyzer)) and a hemodialysis machine. Hemodialysis must be done at least three times a week for about 3 to 4 hours each time. Hemodialysis is generally done at a dialysis clinic but can be done at a patient’s home if the patient is trained to do the dialysis.

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD):

Peritoneal dialysis uses the patient’s own peritoneal membrane, which surrounds the intestines to act as a filter. A tube (catheter) is placed into the peritoneal cavity and then a special solution (dialysate) flows through the catheter into the abdomen, where harmful toxins and excess fluids move the blood to the dialysate. The solution is then drained and discarded. Done at home, the treatments are continuous with 4 to 6 exchanges of fluid being required daily. Each exchange takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Kidney Transplant:

Kidneys for transplant can come from either deceased or living donors. Patients who receive a transplant must have special drugs to prevent their bodies from rejecting the kidney. They also must be careful to avoid exposure to infections since the drugs they take to prevent transplant rejection also diminish the body’s ability to fight infections.

Kidney Disease Educational Resources – Organizations

American Kidney Fund
National Kidney Foundation
Forum of End Stage Renal Disease Networks
Kidney Cancer Association
Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation
United Network for Organ Sharing
American Diabetes Association
American Nephrology Nurses Association
National Renal Administrators Association

Kidney Disease Educational Resources – Government Agencies and Materials

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Disease Program
Medicare – Dialysis and Kidney Information
Medicare Booklet on Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services
CMS ESRD Fact Sheet