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Saturday, December 25, 2004 CE

Understanding the kidney-1

I am currently training to be a nephrologist (kidney specialist). The kidney is probably the most complex organ of the whole body with respect to its functions. My goal of writing something about it here is to show that this organ is much more than a "pee-maker". If I see that people like what I write and become interested, I will post more information, basically answering questions. This and following posts are not intended to give individual medical advise, that is the job of your personal doctor.

Functions of the kidneys
- Participation in the maintenance of a constant extracellular environment for cells to function adequately.
- Hormone production and secretion, mainly to regulate blood pressure.
- Degrades some proteins and synthesizes glucose.

Facts about the kidneys
- Filters 180 liters of blood everyday.
- Produces between 1-4 L of urine everyday
- Senses the amount of hemoglobin we have in the blood and sends signals to stop or increase blood production.
- Receives 20% of all the blood flow of a person in a resting state.
- Consumes 7% of all the oxygen of a person in a resting state.

Post your questions in the comments section to see what my next post regarding this topic should be about. Remember thet I will not give individual medical advise.


Blogger aphrodite said...

Marco, I am using this educational blog to as a means to educate my 7 and 8 year old about their kidneys. Long ago I taught them that it was good to drink alot of water. My 3 year old daughter said "I know why we should drink water, mommy!" She pointed to her knees....and said because "it's good for my KID Knees" :)
I am attempting to explain the function of the kidneys to my kids, now that they are above the level of "KID KNEES" comprehension.
My son has a question that he would like you to explain more thoroughly, please. His question is this: Do the kidneys filter out germs? Is it dangerous to drink urine?
My daughter wants to ask this: Can you explain what you mean about the fact that 20% of the blood flow at resting state is received by the kidneys.
We encourage you to write Part II of "Understanding the Kidney" Thank-you

11:37 AM  
Blogger TOKilla said...

"Is it necessary that I drink my own urine? No, but its santiary and I like the taste."

-Patches O'Houllihan

2:24 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

Hope you had a good holiday.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Hey, Aphrodite:

Urine is essentially sterile, this means (for your kids) free of germs. In the case of urinary tract infections, then it contains germs. Drinking urine, although not advisable, should not cause disease. Actually, people deprived of water had managed to prolong their survival by drinking their own urine. The toxins that it has are in minute concentrations to cause harm by drinking, although drinking a lot of it might cause harm.
The 20% statement has the purpose of underlining the importance of the kidneys. Each kidney is the size of your fist. They are little, and they receive 20%! of the flow of blood. The reason for this is that they have to filter the blood from waste products.

I will definitely write a part 2 and more. I just want people to ask questions to know what to write about.

Gindy: I hope you also had a great Christmas

7:30 PM  
Blogger aphrodite said...

My best friend's son was born with one kidney. My kids are wondering what dangers could be associated to his health.

My son wants to know if animals have kidneys. If so, do they function like human kidneys?

10:35 AM  
Blogger Gindy said...

I thought this article may be of interest. By the way, great post on thermodynamics.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Aphrodite: People can live with one kidney with no problem. But they have to acknowledge that they have only one kidney and thay have to be extra careful in cases of obstructive uropathy (calculus), pyelonephritis (infection). They cannot be donors.

Gindy: If ecstasy is useful to improve the quality of life of a dying person is ok. Actually any anfetamine could do the same job. As an example, heroin and morphine belong to the opioid class of drugs. Heroin is a street drug and morphine is a usual drug. The same analogy can be used for ecstasy and anfetamines. Anyway, drugs of the anfetamine family are already being used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

So would it better for the ill than morphine. Or is it six of one half dozen of the other. I know people who have been in this situation and morphine is what they suggested every time.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

The answer to the last question is: the drugs have different functions. Morphine may focus in the pain, the anfetamine may focus in the mood.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

Doctor Marco:
I am speaking to a friend of mine as I type. He is too lazy to ask this question himself. Although, I made him check out your site first. He had a recent kidney transplant from a cadavor (I don't know how to spell it). He wants me to ask a couple questions. I hope you don't mind.

He wants to know how a glass of red wine a day will effect his tranplanted kidney in the long haul? Should he stay away from it althogether.

How long is the life of a cadavar kidney with the modern medications that we have available today? Are there future medications that will be available in the near future that extend that time period.

For someone who needs a kidney transplant, and one is not available, what are the alternatives that will avialable in the near future besides dialisys (I don't know how to spell it). He is worried about what will happen to him when his kidney goes.

He has been doing some research on the subject. He his doctors. I showed your post on the subject and he was interested in your opinion. I hope you don't mind me asking these questions.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

By the way, he said all of his doctors all told him the same thing. I don't know he wanted me to ask. But, I did it. Thanks.

2:28 AM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

I will answer the questions in broad terms and not with the intention to give personal advise

The relationship between alcohol and kidney transplant survival is unknown. I do not know of a study done to answer the question.

The time of a survival of a graft is variable and depends on many things. Thay could last 20 years or they can last 1 week.

There is no option besides dialysis if you do not have kidneys. However, there are different modalities of dialysis

Thanks for the questions, sorry if the answers are too general, but I hope you understand that it has to be in that way

7:32 AM  
Blogger Gindy said...

I competely understand. I didn't expect you could be specific. These days, you've got to watch what you say. Especially to non patients you haven't seen. I just told him I would ask. Thanks for taking the time. I hope you didn't mind.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

No problem. I hope the answers were ok, I will soon post an Understanding the kidney-2 to help people understand more. I will definitely take into account your questions when I write the post.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

I check back almost daily (whether I comment or not). But, let me know when you post on the subject again and I will forward it to him. I am sure he will be interested. Thanks for the info.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

I good idea is to "subscribe" to my blog in the space assigned for it (sidebar). It will send you an email whenever there is an update. Thanks for encouraging me to post about the kidney, that is what I need to keep doing it.

7:11 PM  

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