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Solitary Kidney

What is Solitary Kidney? 

Solitary kidney is a condition in which instead of two kidneys, a person has a single kidney. A person may be born with one kidney (renal agenesis), have two kidneys but only one functional (renal dysplasia) or lose one kidney to a disease, such as kidney cancer. People who donate one of their kidneys have a solitary kidney. The kidneys perform the following:

  • Filter waste from the blood

  • Help maintain water balance and blood pressure

  • Keep the proper balance of minerals in the blood

Most people who have one kidney lead normal healthy lives. Some people experience complications including reduced kidney function and high  blood pressure.


  • High blood pressure

  • Increased protein in the urine or proteinuria

  • Reduced filtering capacity measured by glomerular filtration rate (GFR). A reduced GFR, measured by a blood test, can occur in people with a single kidney. As long as these conditions are under control, they will probably not affect the overall health dramatically, but regular monitoring is needed.


Some people discover they have a single kidney by accident.
An X-ray and/or an ultrasound
To monitor possible strain on the single kidney, regular blood and urine tests are needed.


  • Controlling blood pressure with lifestyle changes and/or medication

  • Sensible diet and avoiding too much protein to avoid putting strain on the kidney

  • Avoiding injury is important but the child should still engage in physical activity. Discuss appropriate sports with your doctor.

When to Call for Help 

If your child has symptoms including high blood pressure, blood in the urine or foamy urine, swelling in the face, hands, legs, talk to your pediatrician. 

At Hopkins Children’s, solitary kidney is treated by the division of Nephrology.

External Links:

National Institutes of Health 

American Kidney Fund