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A 21-year-old member asked:

Is it true you can survive with only one kidney?

29 doctor answers43 doctors weighed in
Dr. Kenneth Cheng
Family Medicine 32 years experience
Yes: A person can survive normally with only one kidney. When one kidney is surgically removed, the other kidney can compensate and perform the work of two. This is how one can be a living kidney donor.
Dr. Kathy Nieder
Family Medicine 41 years experience
Yes: Your other kidney will take over the "full" job when you lose one kidney.
Dr. Paige Gutheil
Family Medicine 20 years experience
Yes: In general, your body only needs one functioning kidney. In fact some people are born with one kidney and lead completely normal, healthy lives.
Dr. Kristi Moffat
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: You only need one functioning kidney.
Dr. Latisha Smith
Wound care 39 years experience
Yes: The body is fully protected from the toxins that both kidneys remove even if only 1 kidney is present. This is why it is possible for a healthy individual to donate a kidney to someone in need of one. The problem with having only 1 kidney is making sure that no agents that could be harmful to the kidneys are ingested or injected so as not to risk failure of the kidney.
Dr. Latisha Smith
Wound care 39 years experience
Diabetes and hypertension are conditions which have deleterious effects on the kidneys. If someone has had either of these conditions for a long time their kidneys may not be normally functioning. In this circumstance the loss of one kidney may result in a person not having enough kidney function to clear toxins from the body and thus need dialysis.
Dr. Andrew Carroll
Dr. Andrew Carrollanswered
Family Medicine 26 years experience
Yes: Plenty of people are living donors, and donating a kidney is a wonderful life giving gift. It is very feasible to live with just one kidney.
Dr. Tasleyma Sattar
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: It has been shown that within 3 days of losing one kidney (for whatever reason) that the other compensates and your kidney function returns to normal. In fact, you can lose up to 70% of your kidney function before ever having changes in your blood work. Additionally, some people are born with only one kidney and never know it.
Dr. Jonathan Leibowitz
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Yes: Living transplant donors, boxers, car accident victims do it all the time!
Dr. Theodore Cole
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: As with many organs, there is enough reserve to compensate for some loss of function. People with only one kidney can lead a normal life.
Dr. Stephen Saponaro
Specializes in Radiology
Yes: Many people live normal lives with one kidney. It is important to know this information if you are to receive a radiology study that uses intravenous contrast (dye) since the dose used will be less.
Dr. Dean Giannone
Internal Medicine 26 years experience
Yes: When one kidney is removed, the other kidney, assuming it functions normally, can hyperfilter toxins and effectively keep levels of said toxins in a normal range for many years.
Dr. Troy Sedlmeyer
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: Yes, some people are born with one functional kidney, and some people can donate a kidney and still live with their other functioning kidney.
Dr. Cynthia Point
Specializes in Internal Medicine
Yes: Absolutely. People who have had a transplant have one one kidney, and donors also have only one kidney. Sometimes a person has had kidney damage he or she doesn't know about, and only one is working. It is important to keep BP in a good range, and to have kidney function monitored at least annually, if you only have one kidney.
Dr. Paul Abramson
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: Absolutely. Many people lose, donate, or are born without one of their kidneys, and do just fine. It's very important for these people to take care of their one kidney, however, by staying hydrated, managing blood pressure approriately, and avoiding kidney-toxic medications such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen ("nsaids") as much as possible.
Dr. Michael Klein
Family Medicine 22 years experience
Yes: You can absolutely survive with only one kidney. It is not uncommon for people to be born with only one kidney. This is also what enables people to be able to donate kidneys to relatives or friends while they are still alive. The only problem with having only one kidney is that if the second kidney is damaged, the risk of kidney failure increases since there is no backup.
Dr. Kathleen Cullen
Internal Medicine 10 years experience
Yes: For example donors can donate one kidney to a recipient and still function normally.
Dr. Kevin Griffiths
Specializes in Nephrology and Dialysis
Yes: Absolutely, many people live normal life spans with one kidney without any medical issues. If a patient receive kidney transplant, they essentially are living a normal lifespan with just one kidney.
Dr. Theodore Caspe
Family Medicine 41 years experience
Yes: That is why some people can donate one of their kidneys and survive the rest of their life on 1 kidney.
Dr. Barbara A Majeroni
Specializes in Family Medicine
Yes: People who lose a kidney due to an injury or a tumor, usually do fine with one kidney. This is why people can donate a kidney to someone in kidney failure.
Dr. Kenneth Adler
Family Medicine 41 years experience
Yes: Many people do quite well with only one kidney. However, someone with only one functioning kidney should take extra care to protect it. Dehydration can harm your kidneys. So can high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) like Ibuprofen or naproxen. Someone with one kidney should consult their physician before using nsaids.
Dr. Mary Ann Block
A Verified Doctoranswered
33 years experience
Yes: As long as the surviving kidney is working well, people can survive on one kidney.
Dr. Howard Adler
Urology 32 years experience
Yes: Most people can live with only one kidney - provided that kidney has normal function. Patients with medical problems like hypertension and diabetes may have decreased kidney function.
Dr. Clarissa Abrantes
Internal Medicine 22 years experience
Yes: We only need one functional kidney.
Dr. Nassir Azimi
Interventional Cardiology 24 years experience
Yes: After all, only one kidney is transplanted.
Dr. Nassir Azimi
Interventional Cardiology 24 years experience
Yes: A donor gives a kidney for transplant. The transplanted patient receives 1 kidney. They both live with 1 kidney.
Dr. Jason Campbell
Family Medicine 17 years experience
Yes: Absolutely you can survive and even lead a relatively normal life with just one functioning kidney. Some people are even born with just one kidney as well. There are certain recommendations that one should follow with only one kidney as it would be wise to protect that kidney which may include careful drug and athletic participation choices.
Dr. Kevin Griffiths
Specializes in Nephrology and Dialysis
Yes.: Absolutely, many people live normal life spans with one kidney without any medical issues. If a patient receive kidney transplant, they essentially are living a normal lifespan with just one kidney.
Dr. Rakesh Lattupalli
Internal Medicine 24 years experience
Yes: Normal lifespan with singlekidney monitor for protein in urine and BP control.

Similar questions

A 43-year-old member asked:

Tell me how people can survive with only one kidney.?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Madhu Kandarpa
Nephrology and Dialysis 10 years experience
Compensates: If the kidney is normal, it can compensate without any major problems. Majority of healthy living donors don't have any problems and lead normal life.

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Last updated Aug 19, 2020
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