How is Kidney Failure Treated?

How Kidney Failure is Treated
How kidney failure is treated
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Connecting donor kidney to an artery and a vein
Connecting donor kidney to an artery and a vein

Transplanted Kidney
Transplanted kidney


The most common treatment for endstage kidney disease is dialysis. Dialysis removes waste, extra water and chemicals (like potassium, sodium, calcium and acid) from the body. The 2 types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

In hemodialysis, your bloodstream is joined to a kidney machine outside the body. Hemodialysis is most often done 3 times per week and each session takes about 4 hours.

Peritoneal dialysis is done through a tube in the belly. Dialysis will not cure kidney failure. But dialysis can replace the work of the kidneys, and help you feel better and live longer.

Kidney Transplant

About 30 out of 100 patients with kidney failure can have a kidney transplant. This surgery returns kidney function by replacing 2 failed kidneys with 1 healthy organ. About two-thirds of kidney transplants come from nonliving (deceased) donors. But family members, spouses (living, related donors) and friends (living, unrelated donors) can donate safely if tests show that the donor will have nearly normal kidney function after giving up 1 kidney.

A kidney transplant is most often placed in the lower belly without removing the failed kidneys. The artery and vein of the new kidney are joined to an artery and a vein in the pelvis next to your bladder. The ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder) attached to the new kidney is joined to your bladder or to one of your ureters.

In a child, the blood vessels from a large adult kidney transplant are often joined to the child's aorta (the largest artery in the body) and inferior vena cava (the largest vein in the belly).