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Kidney Transplant: Life-Changing Care for Chronic Disease

By Eric A. Klein, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute

Your kidneys are extraordinary organs. Each is no bigger than a clenched fist, but they purify your body’s entire 1.5-gallon blood supply multiple times a day, straining it through hundreds of thousands of tiny natural filters to extract waste via the urine they manufacture. Your kidneys also regulate your blood pressure, make hormones, and keep your body working properly by controlling its balance of fluids, salts, acids and bases. In short, those two small organs do a big job. They’re like a miniature waterworks and chemical factory in one.

With all those vital roles, it’s easy to see that a malfunctioning kidney can be a life-threatening issue. Chronic kidney disease is a major health problem affecting 26 million American adults. Although inherited conditions are often to blame, the majority of chronic kidney disease cases result from diabetes or damage due to high blood pressure. Because blacks have high rates of both conditions, they’re three times more likely than whites to suffer chronic kidney disease.      

Fortunately, for patients whose kidneys fail, dialysis can perform some of the organ’s important functions, including removing harmful waste and excess fluids and helping to control blood pressure. We’re proud at Cleveland Clinic to have played a pioneering role in dialysis development. Continue