Kidneys – useful information

I felt it would be useful for people to have some knowledge on exactly what part kidneys play in maintaining a healthy body.  Understanding also why they fail and what treatment is available – knowing what it is like to live with kidney failure and being on dialysis. Please understand though, I am no medical expert and the following information was gathered from various medical websites and the reliability of information given you would need to check with your own doctor.

What do Kidneys do?

  • Most people have two kidney which are each around 4″ long and 2.5″ wide
  • They can be found just behind the lower ribs and at the back of the body
  • Kidneys act as a filtering system
  • Blood passes through the kidneys to be cleaned
  • Gets rid of waste products and excess fluid
  • The waste and excess fluid is excreted out of the body via the bladder as
  • Balances the body’s fluid content
  • Produces hormones that control blood pressure
  • Produces the hormone Erythropoietin to help make red blood cells
  • Activates vitamin D to maintain strong healthy bones
  • Regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content is performed by
    the kidneys

As blood passes through the kidneys, it is “cleaned” – the body’s waste products and excess fluid are removed. The waste products come from the breakdown of tissues such as muscles and from food. Once the body has taken what it wants from food, the wastes are then sent to the blood. These waste products, along with the excess fluid, are then sent through the ureters to the bladder. Then they are passed out of the body as urine. If the kidneys did not remove the wastes from the blood, then they would build up and damage the body.

Kidney Failure

Kidney disease usually affects both kidneys.

There are many causes of chronic kidney disease.  Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.

There can be inherited diseases. Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited kidney disease.

Useful Links:
Where are your Kidneys? -interactive animation
How do your Kidneys work?
– excellent animation showing you how they work
NHS Kidney Care website
Videos from NHS Kidney Care
Interesting Facts about Kidneys
 – Dr. Simon Prince from the USA


Patients with kidney disease can be treated with diet and medication and also dialysis or a kidney transplant.


There are two different type of dialysis:
Haemodialysis:  This is where the blood is cleared of toxins outside the body.
Peritoneal dialysis: This is where the cleaning is done inside the body.

Read more about
dialysis here


12 Responses to “Kidneys”

  • Theresa:

    l like be come living Kidney donor

  • Diane:

    Hi Theresa,
    That is wonderful. You need to either go to your doctor and tell him what you want to do and he can put you in touch with your local co-ordinator. Or if you know where your local Transplant Centre is, then contact them direct.

    Good luck.

    All the best

  • Anna:

    I am in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Where is my local Transplant Centre please?

  • Diane:

    Hi Anna,
    Your nearest transplant centre would be St James’s University Hospital –

    If you need any further information please let me know.

  • Claudia:

    I’m a german citizen and dialysis. Here isn’t it possible to get a living kidney donor from someone you do not know. When your family can not spend you have to waite for more than 7 years.

  • Diane:

    Hi Claudia,
    I did not know that donating to a stranger was not allowed in Germany. I am sure they cannot be that far off approving that method? So sorry you have to wait so long. Hopefully you will get your transplant very soon- your day will come. Thank you for posting and letting us know the situation.
    All the best

  • Irene:

    i have three(3) kidneys,they are all in good condition the Doctor recommends that u can donate anyone of them.
    my doctor done all blood test. I am alright and i dont have suffer in any dangerous disease

  • Diane:

    Hi Irene,
    Hopefully you will put yourself forward to be fully evaluated so one of your kidneys can go to a deserving person on the waiting list. It is not unheard of to have three kidneys, a friend of mine also had three.
    Thanks for posting

  • Jim Dunt:

    I am in Andover SP11 9JJ. Where is my local transplant centre?

    Would it be Bristol or Oxford? Going on your and other peoples experiences then the Churchill sounds the best

  • Diane:

    Hi Jim,
    Here is a link giving a list of all the kidney transplant units so you can see which one would be nearest/best to you. It could be you can choose which you go to as I don’t think Oxford (Churchill) would be your nearest one. There are many very good transplant centers, Plymouth being another one. Yes Churchill was excellent but I am sure people from other centers would probably say the same about theirs? Anyway here is the link~
    Suggest you telephone the hospital you select and ask to speak to a “Live Donor Coordinator” and then take it from there.

    Hope that helps

  • Dennis Cummings:

    my son and I would like to become living kidney donors,(preferably for my wife and my son’s mother), but after seeing what she/we have been through I would like to help someone else if my kidney os not compatiable for my wife. Please could you provide details of who I would need to speak too, or where I would have to go to make this possible.

  • Diane:

    Hi Dennis,
    That is wonderful that you want to donate, regardless. What you need to do is contact your local transplant centre. Speak with the live donor co-ordinator and he/she will advise you. If I can help in any other way, please just let me know.

Leave a Reply