Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual and usually permanent loss of kidney function. According to the National Kidney Foundation, there are over 31 million adults in the U.S with CKD with millions more un-diagnosed and at increased risk, including African-Americans, Latinos and American Indians. CKD consists of five stages of increasing severity. The fifth stage where the kidneys are no longer functioning, is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). According to industry research, there were approx. 565,700 ESRD patients receiving dialysis in the U.S. Worldwide, there are nearly 3 million on dialysis growing 5-7% annually and forecasted to reach 5 million by 2025. All patients with ESRD will need dialysis or kidney transplantation to sustain life.
A kidney transplant often will give an ESRD patient the most nearly normal life. This is a surgical procedure where a single healthy kidney replaces a permanently damaged kidney within the patient’s body. Best results are seen from a donor who is a living relative whose tissues closely match those of the recipient. Transplants from cadaver donors (individuals who have died) also are frequently successful. However, there are over 100,000 Americans waiting for kidney transplants. The wait can be anywhere from a few weeks to two years or more. Unfortunately, because of a shortage of suitable donors, less than half that number will receive transplants.
Even with a successful transplant operation, 10 percent of transplant patients experience rejection of the donated kidney within the first year and there is a 25 percent rejection rate in three years. To prevent rejection, strong medication will be required for the rest of the patient’s life.
More than 50 percent of patients with ESRD do not meet the requirements for a successful kidney transplant. This includes those that have received blood transfusions; most people in the elderly population; and those with multiple illnesses like heart disease, history of chronic infection, cancer or decreased immune function. For these patients, kidney function may be replaced by one of two methods of treatment – either peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis.