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Myths About Kidney Failure
Mar 2015
Dr Ravi Andrews
Consultant Nephrologist, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad

“You have kidney failure!” says your doctor. You are 25 years old and your serum creatinine (a test of kidney function) is 1.5 mg/dl (normal range is 0.5 to 1.3 mg/dl). Your neighbour who is 75 years old, is hale and hearty. You and your family are devastated. Statistically, a 25-year-old kidney failure patient is 100 times more likely to die than a healthy 75-year-old! A distant relative also has kidney failure with a serum creatinine of 8.6 mg/dl and has been advised dialysis.

Doesn’t it sound illogical that someone with a mildly elevated creatinine is clubbed together with someone with a markedly increased one and both are labelled as having kidney failure? Even among medical professionals, there is still ambiguity regarding kidney failure and its terminology.

It was for these reasons that a group of nephrologists representing the National Kidney Foundation of USA held a consensus meeting in 2003. They took two major decisions that day which would irrevocably change the way kidney failure patients were viewed. Firstly, kidney failure would now be called kidney disease or injury and secondly, it would be subdivided into various stages depending on the severity of damage.