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Solitary Kidney

What is solitary kidney?

Most people are born with two kidneys. When a child only has one kidney, they are said to have solitary kidney.

Reasons for solitary kidney

The child may have been born with only one kidney. These children will often go their whole lives without knowing that they only have one kidney, and then have an X-ray or surgery for an unrelated reason and find that they have a solitary kidney.

The child might have undergone surgical removal (nephrectomy), due to kidney disease or kidney damage.

Future outlook

Most children with solitary kidney lead normal healthy lives. The important thing is to maintain the kidney function in the remaining kidney.

What are the possible effects of solitary kidney?

If having a solitary kidney does affect your child’s health, the changes would be so small and happen so slow, that often times you will not recognize the changes. Eventually, these changes will need to be treated. These changes may include:

  • High blood pressure: Your kidneys help to maintain a healthy blood pressure through fluid and hormone regulation. Some people who have a solitary kidney are found to have slightly higher blood pressure after several years.
  • Proteinuria: Excessive protein in the urine, proteinuria, can be a sign of kidney damage. Some people will have higher levels of protein in their urine, after they have lived with one kidney for several years.
  • Reduced GFR: The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) shows how efficiently your kidneys are removing wastes from your body. People may have a reduced GFR if they have solitary kidney.

A person can have high blood pressure, proteinuria and reduced GFR and not have any side effects at all. If these problems are monitored by a physician and kept under control, a person most likely will not have problems.

How do you protect the remaining kidney?

  • Avoid injury: Avoiding contact sports, such as karate, hockey, football and boxing, and motorcycles, although this is controversial. Most kidney injuries do occur in car accidents.All children should be encouraged to participate in some form of physical activity, even if contact sports are ruled out. Protective gear, such as padded vests, worn under a uniform can make limited contact sports like basketball or soccer safe. Doctors, parents and patients should consider the risks of any activity and decide whether the benefits outweigh those risks.
  • Regular monitoring: Your child should have his blood pressure and urine checked once a year, to monitor kidney function.
  • Med Alert bracelet: Your child should wear a med alert bracelet in the incident he is in an accident and the medical authorities need to be aware of his solitary kidney.