A kidney is a bean-shaped organ responsible for filtering wastes and extra water from your blood, creating urine. Typically, the human body contains two-kidneys, one on each side of the spine, just above your waist.  

But do you need both of your kidneys to function normally? The truth is, not really. 

Scientists believe that two kidneys are a result of our natural bilateral symmetry, where the right part of our bodies mirror the left. Why then, don’t we have two livers? There are some mysteries of the body we might never understand. 

One thing we do know, however, is that a person with one kidney can achieve the same quality of life as a person with two kidneys. 

Why Do Some People Have One Kidney? 

There are a number of reasons why a person might be living with one kidney. In some cases, people are simply born that way. This is called renal agenesis, a term which can also apply to people born without either kidney.  

Others are born with two kidneys, but only one works. This is called kidney dysplasia. 

Those born with two functioning kidneys might need one removed due to injury or disease. If you have two kidneys, and one is malfunctioning, it can cause serious harm to your body. If, however, the affected kidney is removed, the healthy kidney will function properly, and your body will return to normal. 

Lastly, a person with two healthy kidneys may choose to donate a kidney to someone in need. The person who is donating must be a proper match for the person who is receiving the kidney. While you don’t have to be related to a person to be a kidney match, three out of four living organ donors are biologically related to the recipient 

Life with One Kidney 

Those who are born with only one kidney, as well as those who lost one when they were young may experience a minor loss in kidney function. They may also be prone to higher blood pressure later in life. However, these are not guaranteed, and even when they do occur, the effects are minimal.  

Having one kidney does not affect lifespan. However, it is very important for those with one kidney to protect this vital organ. If it stops functioning, they are left with no kidneys, which leads to serious complications and dangers. 

Thankfully, kidney transplants are quite common and successful these days. Still, it’s best to take care of the kidney(s) you already have. 

Kidney disease and other kidney issues often don’t show symptoms until their condition gets more severe. If you’ve experienced any urinary issues, or you have high-blood pressure (a condition that can negatively impact kidney function), you should see a urologist for a screening and testing. 

For a urology doctor in the Dayton, Ohio area, contact Urology Specialists of Ohio. With 5 locations across the Miami Valley, we can provide you with convenient, quality kidney care.