How the Kidneys Work

The kidneys are complex organs with many functions. A child can live a normal, healthy life with just one kidney, however, a child cannot live without one working kidney.

Some of the main functions of the kidneys include:

  • Filtering the body's blood of wastes, such as excess sodium, potassium and urea
  • Maintaining fluid balance to keep the body hydrated
  • Filtering out acids to help maintain the body's acid balance
  • Producing the hormone erythropoietin which helps the bone marrow make red blood cells
  • Helping activate vitamin D to help with calcium balance and bone health

When the kidneys fail it is called renal failure. During renal failure, your child may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Poor growth