Kidney Disease Facts

Kidney disease causes more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer in the U.S.

Kidney disease affects an estimated 37 million people
in the U.S.


1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease.

1 in 3 adults in the U.S.


Kidney disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S.


What is Kidney Disease?

The kidneys, each just the size of a human fist, filter all the blood in a person’s body every 30 minutes. They work hard to remove wastes, toxins, and excess fluid. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells, keep your bones healthy, and regulate blood chemicals that are essential to life.

Kidney Filter Blood Every 30 Minutes

What Causes Kidney Disease and how is it Diagnosed?

The two main causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. People may not feel sick or notice any symptoms until kidney disease is advanced. The only way people find out if they have kidney disease is through simple blood and urine tests. The blood test checks for creatinine (a waste product) in the blood to see how well the kidneys work. This test determines an individual’s estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)—a measure of how much blood the kidneys filter each minute. If the eGFR number is low, the kidneys are not working as well as they should. As kidney disease progresses, a person’s eGFR goes down. A kidney damage urine albumin-creatinine ratio (uACR) test measures the amount of protein called albumin in your urine. Damaged kidneys leak protein into your urine. Too much albumin in your urine is an early sign of kidney damage.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

Kidneys that function properly are critical for maintaining good health, however, more than one in seven American adults are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD occurs when the kidneys are damaged and lose their ability to keep a person healthy by filtering their blood. In the early stages of the disease, most people do not have symptoms. But as kidney disease gets worse, wastes can build up in a person’s blood and make them feel sick. Because kidneys are vital to so many of the body’s functions, kidney disease also increases the risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. While these problems may happen slowly and without symptoms, they can lead to kidney failure, which can appear without warning. When the kidneys stop working, dialysis or kidney transplant is needed for survival. Kidney failure treated with dialysis or kidney transplant is called End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). More than 500,000 people in the United States currently live with ESRD.

12 people die every day while waiting for a kidney transplant

How is End-Stage Renal Disease Treated?

Once kidneys fail, treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed.

Dialysis comes in two forms: hemodialysis (HD) or peritoneal dialysis (PD). Both forms remove wastes and extra fluid from blood. Patients receive hemodialysis usually 3–4 times a week, either at home or at a dialysis center. During hemodialysis, blood is pumped through a dialysis machine, where it is cleaned and returned to the individual’s body. With peritoneal dialysis, blood is cleaned inside a person’s body every day through the lining of the abdomen using a special fluid that is periodically changed. Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home, at work, at school, or even during travel. Home dialysis is an increasingly popular mode of treatment and is associated with better outcomes.
Dr. Joe Tector discusses the organ donor crisis.

A kidney transplant places a healthy kidney into your body from a deceased donor or from a living donor, such as a close relative, spouse, friend, or generous stranger. This procedure is referred to as an allotransplantation. A kidney transplant, however, is a treatment, not a cure. Antirejection and other medications are needed to maintain the transplant. According to the United States Renal Data System (USRDS), 24,502 kidney transplants were performed in the United States in 2019. At the end of 2019, 78,690 patients were on the waitlist for a kidney transplant. The active waiting list remains substantially larger than the supply of donor kidneys, which presents a continuing challenge.

What is kidney transplant success rate?

According to the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the success rate after a kidney transplant with a living-donor kidney was reported as 97% at 1 year and 86% at 5 years. The success rate after transplant with a deceased-donor kidney was 96% at 1 year and 79% at 5 years.

Success rate after a kidney transplant
with a living-donor kidney

Success rate after transplant with
a deceased-donor kidney









Why Do Kidney Transplants Fail?

There are various reasons that a kidney transplant may fail but a common reason for rejection is due to an immune response in the body. This occurs because the immune system views the donor kidney as foreign and attacks it.

Less than 1 in 20 transplant patients have an acute rejection episode that leads to complete failure of their new kidney. Chronic rejection happens more often and occurs slowly over the years after a kidney transplant. Over time, the donor kidney may stop working because the body’s immune system will constantly fight it. Non-compliance with medications or side effects from medications also can contribute to donor kidney rejection.

What testing is done to determine whether a
donor is a good match for its recipient?


This makes sure the donor’s blood type and the recipient’s blood type are a good match.


A sample of the donor’s blood is mixed with a sample of the recipient to see how they react. This makes sure they don’t have antibodies that will cause their body to attack the donor kidney.


The primary use for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) testing is to match organ and tissue transplant recipients with compatible donors. HLA testing also includes screening transplant recipients for the presence of antibodies that might target the donated tissue or organ as part of an immune response.