MCDK - What's life like with one kidney?
February 15, 2017 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Do you have a child with a unilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney? Or do you have one working kidney? How has it affected your life?

I'm looking for any advice, anecdotes, or information that I wouldn't find with casual googling.
posted by blue_beetle to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My buddy has one kidney and the only thing it appears to have ever kept him from doing is joining the military. His 2nd kidney had something wrong with it at birth, IIRC, so he's been a uni-filter for life.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:29 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

My fourth-grade teacher discovered he only had one kidney when he got a kidney stone at age 60. He would never have known about the single kidney, if not for the stone. He took a few days off from school to drink a ton of water and pee out the stone, then he came back, entertained us with vivid stories about how painful that kidney stone was, and continued teaching happily and healthily til he retired. He was great. He's probably very old and still alive today.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

My mom is a kidney donor. (My dad received her kidney!) It hasn't slowed her down a bit--she is every bit as active, and eats & drinks the same as she always has.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

My late husband went into renal failure at 15 due to chicken pox complications. Before the chicken pox there was no suspicion at all that he had any abnormality, but when they were treating him they realized he had only one functional kidney from birth.

So on the one hand no day to day difference due to having only one kidney, no one even knew it was happening. But on the other hand, increased risk due to not having a fallback.

From that point it's hard to say what was the result of having only one kidney (a transplant from his brother) and what was due to the transplant medications which have a high impact on health over the long term. When he died it was because of the immunosuppressants leaving him vulnerable to MRSA.

I'd say the biggest thing related specifically to one kidney was asymmetrical fluid retention: when he didn't watch his salt and protein intake he got one puffed up foot and eventually this lead to gout in his early thirties. Doctors would just nod and say of course it's all on one side, you've only got one kidney.
posted by buildmyworld at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

A friend who donated a kidney is now worried that if ACA is repealed she will have trouble with insurance since it would be considered a pre-existing condition.
posted by Sophont at 10:45 AM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

One of my older relatives didn't learn she only had one kidney until she was in, I think, her 50s. It's never affected her life in any way.
posted by praemunire at 10:57 AM on February 15, 2017

I had two apparently fully-functioning kidneys until my late 50s when I lost one to renal cell carcinoma, so can offer a before/after comparison. And the results of that comparison are...nothing much changed. I get frequent metabolic panels to make sure the remaining kidney is working well, have to be especially careful about managing blood pressure, and drink plenty of water so toxins are well-diluted.
posted by DrGail at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2017

I believe that contact sports are discouraged if you have one kidney. Otherwise, most people do not find that it changes their life all that much.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 11:23 AM on February 15, 2017

I have one, the other was atrophied at birth. I'm 42. I get labs done every once in awhile. Never had any problems whatsoever. You're supposed to drink more water but eh, I'm marginal about that. YMMV but I never think about it. Definitely tell doctors when you have to give medical histories though - some drugs are hard on the kidneys and they may substitute something else.
posted by AFABulous at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

A friend who donated a kidney is now worried that if ACA is repealed she will have trouble with insurance since it would be considered a pre-existing condition.

I've never had that issue.
posted by AFABulous at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2017

I donated one of my kidneys three years ago. I go for an annual checkup every year, and the 3 rules I was given were:

1. Social drinking only (2 drinks max per day for men, 1 for women.)
2. Don't smoke (I used to smoke cigars, but I gave them up.)
3. Don't feed it after midnight.

Whoops, sorry....mixing up my rules. The actual third rule was:

3. No contact sports (like professional football, rugby, etc.)

I drink lots of water, and still do all of the activities I enjoyed before I donated. Haven't had any problems or issues so far.
posted by KillaSeal at 2:00 PM on February 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Here is a podcast that includes information about MCDK, with transcript.
posted by bq at 2:25 PM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have one kidney; the other died at birth. I get an ultrasound once a year, and microalbumin/urinalysis labs every 6 months because of cortical thinning on my remaining kidney. I don't play any contact sports and avoid things that could cause a fall. I don't take ibuprofen, or drink a lot of alcohol. I try my best to drink lots of water, but could always be better!
posted by eggs at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2017

My dad was born with only one kidney. It didn't keep him out of the military in WWII. He's 90 and he still runs several miles 3 or 4 days a week, and he lives and runs in a hilly area.
posted by mareli at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Born with one kidney, no problems at all. I do have to warn ultrasound technicians that it's twice as big as usual so they don't freak out, but that's about it.
posted by Mogur at 1:58 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I lost one kidney due to severe hydronephrosis caused by endometriosis. My surgeons told me casually that if my other kidney got affected by endo, I could survive on less than 25% of one kidney before needing dialysis.

Finding out you have problems with your kidney -ie feeling pain or swelling - often doesn't occur until you've lost 80% of function. So in my case, I have yearly scans/ ultrasounds to watch for any hydronephrosis.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:11 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

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