End-Stage Renal Disease
End-stage renal disease is the name for kidney failure so advanced that it cannot be reversed ("renal" is another word for kidney). The name is appropriate: the kidneys in end-stage renal disease function so poorly that they can no longer keep you alive.
End-stage renal disease cannot be treated with conventional medical treatments such as drugs. Only 2 treatments allow you to continue living when your kidneys stop functioning: dialysis and kidney transplantation.
* Dialysis is the term for several different methods of artificially filtering the blood. People who require dialysis are kept alive but give up some degree of their freedom because of their dialysis schedule, fragile health, or both.
* Kidney transplantation means replacement of the failed kidneys with a working kidney from another person, called a donor. Kidney transplantation is not a complete cure, although many people who receive a kidney transplant are able to live much as they did before their kidneys failed. People who receive a transplant must take medication and be monitored by a physician who specializes in kidney disease (nephrologist) for the rest of their lives.
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that about 350,000 people in the United States have end-stage renal disease and about 67,000 people die of kidney failure every year.
* In the year 2000, nearly 47,000 people in the United States were waiting for a kidney transplant.
* Because of a shortage of donor kidneys, each year only a small percentage of people who need a transplant actually receive a kidney. The wait for a donor kidney can take years.