Next to cancer and cardiac ailments, kidney failure is the third most life threatening disease. Over a million people the world over are surviving on dialysis according to the health website, But this rude fact can be avoided. The answer lies in the old adage, ‘prevention is the best cure,’ reports Kinley Tshering.

Twenty two-year-old Tashi Namgay is fortunate to be alive today. Only a year before, he was struggling between life and death after being diagnosed with chronic Kidney failure. The disease could have taken his life, had he not received a kidney transplant on time. However not everybody can be as lucky as he was. Next time, afflicted with the disease, we could be lying on the deathbed, wishing for a miracle to happen.
Needless to say, the figures are shocking.
A whooping 7.85 million people are suffering from kidney failure in India alone. Every year one lakh new patients are diagnosed with end-stage renal failure (ESRD), of which 90,000 of them require dialysis. Only about 2% of these patients can avail dialysis treatment while 5% of them get kidney transplants according to, a health website.
Furthermore, about 90% of kidney patients in India are not able to afford treatment. The problem is further aggravated by the fact that kidney failure is incurable. The treatment is a life-long process until the patient dies.
Causes of Kidney failure
Kidney failures occur due to several reasons. Decreased blood supply to the kidney due to Hypovolemia i.e. low blood volume due to blood loss, dehydration from loss of body fluid, and less in take of fluids, amongst others, can render the Kidneys dysfunctional.
Excessive in take of diuretic medicines also enhances the risks of kidney failure. Medications used to control high cholesterol level in the body can cause renal failure too.
However, the common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic glomerulonephriits, cystic diseases of kidney and tubulointerstitial diseases, says Dr. Sanjay K. Agarwal, an additional professor at the department of nephrology in All India Medical Institute of Science.
While the chances of getting a kidney disease varies from person to person, Dr. Agarwal warns that patient with diabetes, high blood pressure and person having a family member who has a kidney disease have higher risk of developing kidney disease.

There is no cure for kidney failure unless in the case of a transplant. But consistent treatment can keep the kidney working for a lifetime. Therefore, doctors say prevention is the best cure. However, all is not so glum.
“Kidney failure is of two types. Acute kidney failure can be cured. But chronic kidney failure can not be cured,” says Dr. Agarwal. “Even for renal transplant, we do not use the word cure. It replaces renal function and keeps kidney function normal for certain period of time. But it does not give life for unlimited period.”
By taking a strict and controlled diet, the kidneys can be prevented from worsening. Since the kidneys cannot easily remove excess water, salt, or potassium, they may need to be consumed in limited quantities. Diseases like hypertension and diabetes add fuel to the fire. Therefore, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure within normal limits is important say doctors.
“Medicine can not improve kidney function of chronic kidney disease. They support dysfunction and delay further damage of the remaining functioning kidney,” warns the doctor.
Kidney Transplant, an expensive choice
Getting a kidney replacement through transplant is even costlier. Some figures point out that to get a kidney transplant it cost around Rs four lakh on an average. Tashi Namgay’s family spent more than Rs 10 lakh for his kidney transplant.
In India about 90,000 kidney transplants are required every year. However, only a measly 2.5% of the patients receive transplants according to figures maintained by the National Kidney Foundation.
However, when the kidneys fail completely, the option left is either dialysis or kidney transplantation.
In the age of AIDS, people are not aware about the fatality of kidney disease. Agrees Dr. Sanjay K. Agarwal: “That is the irony. People are more aware of heart disease, stroke, cancer, mental illness but not aware of kidney diseases. To some extent our government is responsible for this. There is NOT much attention given to kidney diseases as it is given to other non-communicable diseases.”
Further, patients who have high blood pressure, swelling over body, low hemoglobin, loss of appetite and vomiting, fracture with minimal trauma and those who have problems while urinating, should get checked for kidney diseases adds Dr. Agarwal.