Understanding the kidney-2
The kidney is a very complicated organ as you could see from all the functions that it performs in Understanding the kidney-1. Animals also have kidneys and they function almost exactly as human kidneys, to answer one kid's question. This time I will focus in replacing the kidney when it stops working.
Life is not possible without kidneys. So if they fail, they have to be replaced. There are 2 forms of replacing kidneys that have stopped working. One is what is called dialysis and the other one is to have a kidney transplant.
Dialysis can be of 2 types. Hemodialysis is the one done with those big machines through which blood is passed. Blood is "cleaned up" by a filter and returned to the circulation. Although they are big machines, they do not work as effciently as a kidney and many substances are still retained in the body, which eventually might lead into harm. The second type is called peritoneal dialysis. It consists of a liquid that is placed in the abdomen (peritoneal cavity). In this case, the peritoneal membrane acts as a kidney helping in moving the waste products from the blood towards the liquid, which is exchanged several times a day. The exchanges can be done by the patient and need to be done in a very clean environment, to prevent bacteria to go into the abdomen.
Having a kidney transplant is the best way of replacing a kidney. However, it is not perfect because the person that receives the transplant needs to receive medication that will suppress his or her immune system in order to avoid rejection. Sometimes this suppression of the immune system can lead into severe infections. A patient with a kidney transplant needs to be very careful and responsible with the kidney he or she has received. A kidney transplant can come from a dead person or from a living donor. It has to pass lots of tests before being transplanted, because if not, it can be rejected very quickly. Not all people are good candidates to receive a kidney transplant.
Remember that these series are not intended to give personal advise, for that you need to seek help from your personal doctor. I am glad to receive questions so that I can post the next part.