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Below is a list of the diseases that most commonly lead to chronic kidney disease/end-stage renal disease and need for kidney transplantation in our patients.  For a more detailed list of diseases that lead to transplantation, click here

Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 and Type 2)

blood glucose meter used by patients with diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.  You may also hear it referred to as “juvenile diabetes”. About 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.  In patients with type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Therefore, these patients must take insulin by injection or via insulin pump in order to manage their blood glucose levels.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas can still make insulin, but your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. Initially, the pancreas makes extra insulin to try to overcome the resistance. But, over time it isn't able to keep up enough to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.  Some patients with type 2 diabetes can be managed strictly through dietary modifications and exercise, however many require medication to control the diabetes.  This may include oral medication, injectable medications other than insulin, insulin, or a combination of several medications. 

Diabetes and Kidney Disease: Regardless of the type of diabetes, poor control of blood glucose levels can lead to diabetes-related complications including kidney disease (nephropathy), eye problems (retinopathy), nerve problems (neuropathy), and heart and vascular (blood vessel) issues.

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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Machine used to measure blood pressure.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is also a common cause of kidney disease in our transplant candidates/recipients.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries around the kidneys to narrow, weaken or harden. These damaged arteries are not able to deliver enough blood to the kidney tissue, which in turn causes the kidneys to not filter the blood as they should.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic Kidneys Removed from Transplant Recipient

Polycystic kidneys removed from a transplant recipient

Polycystic kidney disease (also called PKD) is an inherited condition that passes down within families. PKD causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys.

These cysts are filled with fluid. If too many cysts grow or if they get too large, the kidneys may become damaged. These cysts can slowly replace much of the normal kidney tissue, reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure.

Some patients with PKD have significant signs and symptoms when their kidneys grow very large in size due to the cysts. These include pain in the back or side, increased abdominal girth, blood in their urine, infections in the urinary tract, high blood pressure, and reduced appetite or gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux).

For patients with significant symptoms, one or both of the PKD kidneys may need to be removed around the time of kidney transplantation. At most transplant centers, this involves a "staged" operation, where the kidney(s) are removed prior to transplant (in cases of a scheduled living donor transplant, usually several months prior).

At Weill Cornell Transplant Center, we are proud to be one of few transplant centers that performs a simultaneous surgery — removing the PKD kidneys and implanting the transplant kidney. This avoids the need for multiple hospitalizations, as well helping patients to avoid dialysis, which makes our patients happy, as you can see in the video below.

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Glomerular Disease

Glomerular disease is a generic term for any condition that affects the glomeruli of the kidneys, which are tiny parts of the kidney responsible for cleaning the blood of toxins.

These conditions may be caused by genetic and environmental causes (such as medication-induced). Examples of some of the conditions that cause glomerular disease include IgA nephropathy, Alport Syndrome, lupus, HIV infection, and many others.

Read more about glomerular disease by clicking here

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