Health corner – kicking donor kidneys to curb

EMMIE CATRAMBONE, Reporter

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The kidney is a very important bodily organ, as it removes toxins from the bloodstream and helps to extract waste from the body.  Without kidneys, a person can survive only for a few days to a few weeks – after that, they will slowly fall into a coma and then pass away due to extreme waste build-up in the blood.

A kidney transplant is the best option for a person with failing kidneys – donor organs replace the failing organs of the patient in order for the person to have normal, working kidneys.  However, there is the chance that the kidney can be rejected by the patient, in which case they will be placed back on the transplant list.  Blood Typing the patient and matching the person with the correct donor organ blood type is also a critical part of the process, one that makes it very tedious and difficult.

Dialysis is the other “treatment” option for patients with failing kidneys.  Three times a week, patients must come into a dialysis center and get hooked up to wires, tubes, and machines that clean the patient’s blood.  Although dialysis is a reasonable solution, it lasts only for about 5-10 years.  That may seem like a long time, but it unfortunately is not a permanent solution.

Just in the United States alone, over 275,000 people rely on dialysis in order to stay alive.  Although receiving a kidney transplant is the absolute best option, there is a world-wide shortage of donor organs – people can often wait on the transplant list for years before getting a much-needed organ.

Recently, scientists have been working to develop an artificial kidney that can be implanted into patients.  The “kidney”, once connected to the bloodstream and to the bladder of the patient, is intended to be a lifetime solution for a patient with kidney failure.

The new device filters a patient’s blood, just as a real kidney does.  Salts, sugars, and water are extracted from the blood and then directed back into the bloodstream while harmful toxins are directed to the bladder.  Then, the wastes can be extracted from the body and the patient’s bloodstream can remain clean and healthy.

While this technology is an amazing advancement, it is not quite ready to be fully introduced to patient.  However, this new device offers a very promising solution to kidney failures for people all over the world.

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Health corner – kicking donor kidneys to curb