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End Stage Renal Disease May Require a Kidney Transplant

Physician talking to a transplant patient End stage renal disease (ESRD) is characterized by the complete and permanent failure of one or both kidneys. The kidneys are vital components of the body, and are responsible for removing waste from the blood and regulating blood pressure, in addition to other important functions. That means that when the kidneys fail, a person must undergo dialysis (or in some cases, a transplant) to ensure that his or her body can process waste and continue living.

Although ESRD can be caused by a number of conditions, it is most frequently brought on by diabetes and/or high blood pressure. This is not to say that everyone with either of these two conditions will end up with renal disease, but they are the most prevalent causes of the disease in the United States. The high blood sugar attributed to diabetes can cause the kidneys to filter excessive amounts of blood, thereby placing an additional strain on the kidneys’ filtration systems and causing them to eventually deteriorate. High blood pressure can similarly damage the kidneys by stretching out the blood vessels (including the many tiny ones located in the kidneys) to accommodate the greater amount of blood flow. After a certain amount of stretching, the blood vessels begin to scar and irreversibly weaken. After the primary damage to the kidney, the slow decline to end stage renal disease can take 10 to 20 years. There may be no symptoms at first, but at some point, they can manifest as:

  • Reduced energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling in the feet or ankles
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Frequent urination

Over the span of many years, kidney damage can lead to high blood pressure, bone diseases, anemia, and even heart failure. Often, it also causes high blood pressure, which can create a vicious cycle for patients whose condition was caused by high blood pressure in the first place.

End stage renal disease patients typically require dialysis to remove waste products from their blood once their organs can no longer accomplish this. For some people, a kidney transplant might also be a viable treatment option. At Tampa General Hospital, we have performed an average of 200 kidney transplants per year since 2006, making us one of the highest-volume transplant programs in Florida and the entire country. To learn more about our program and the criteria that patients should meet to be eligible for a transplant - call 1-800-505-7769, then press 5 for the kidney transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator, or contact the coordinator directly at (813) 844-8686.