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Facts About Kidneys


Do you know that your Kidneys…?

  •  Weigh less than 1% of your body weight?
  • Receive 20% of the blood that is pumped by your heart?
  • Filter 180 litres of fluids per day to produce 2 litres of urine?
  • Maintain your body’s internal environment constant?
  • Remove harmful wastes from your body via urine?
  • Produce certain essential hormones?
    • Erythropoietin which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells
    • Renin to regulate blood pressure
    • Activate Vitamin D to produce calcitriol which helps maintain calcium balance in the bones.


If kidney damage becomes too  severe, one’s kidneys lose their ability to function normally, this is  called End Stage Kidney (Renal) Disease, ESRD, or Kidney Failure.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two known leading causes of ESRD, accounting for more than 60  percent of new cases of dialysis patients in Malaysia. Kidney disease  can also develop from infection, inflammation of blood vessels in the  kidneys, kidney stones and cysts. Other possible causes include  prolonged use of pain relievers and use of alcohol or other drugs  (including prescription medications).

There are three types of Kidney Failure:

2.1. Acute Kidney Failure

This is the sudden loss of kidney functions over a few hours or days. It  can be due to one of the various types of kidney diseases or may be due  to infections or low blood pressure after an accident.

Loss of kidney functions in Acute Kidney Failure is usually  temporary, but can be life threatening. In most cases, this type of  kidney failure is reversible, but it occasionally may not respond to  treatment and may progress to Chronic Kidney Failure or End Stage Kidney  Failure.

Acute Kidney Failure is more common in men than in women. When  Acute Kidney Failure occurs, investigations are undertaken to determine  the cause. This may include a kidney biopsy.

Sometimes there are specific, treatable causes, but often it is  simply a case of waiting patiently for the kidneys to heal themselves and recover their functions.

Many people with Acute Kidney Failure require dialysis, while  they are waiting for their kidneys to recover. However sometimes Acute Kidney Failure can be managed conservatively, by simply watching the  blood pressure and the blood chemistry and waiting for kidney functions  to return.

2.2. Chronic Kidney Failure

When the loss of kidney functions is gradual and progressive, it is  referred to as Chronic Kidney Failure. Eventually, the kidneys are unable to remove wastes or maintain the body’s salt and fluid balance,  resulting in the need to receive dialysis treatment. The symptoms of  this type of kidney failure may not be noticed immediately.

A build-up of creatinine (a waste product normally removed by  the kidneys) in the blood will indicate kidney functions and the level of kidney impairment. The risk of Chronic Kidney Failure increases with age.

2.3. End Stage Kidney Failure

This phrase means that the kidneys have failed completely, and can no longer support life. Some people with End Stage Kidney Failure stop passing urine completely; others will still pass some weak, watery urine.