A nationwide survey has revealed the majority of adults have a shocking lack of knowledge about their kidneys and aren’t aware of the devastating consequences
of kidney failure.

The survey, commissioned by charity Kidney Research UK, asked basic questions about the kidneys and kidney disease, to uncover the extent of public knowledge and awareness this World Kidney Day.

Despite 93% of North Western respondents believing they had a good knowledge of the kidneys’ function, 79% couldn’t identify where the kidneys are.

In addition, 77% didn’t know the kidneys filtered blood with half  falsely believing that they filtered urine which is actually the by-product of the blood filtration process.

The results highlight a worrying lack of understanding of a vital organ that 34% of respondents believed we could live without. Participants were also asked about their current health to identify whether they had any risk factors for kidney disease.

Shockingly, 60% of UK adults surveyed who were at risk didn’t believe they were, highlighting that many people are living in ignorance of the risks they face and unable to take steps to help themselves.

Despite four in 10  respondents being at some risk of kidney disease, just 5% of those surveyed placed the disease at the top of their health concerns.

The survey addressed some of the most common misconceptions around kidney disease.

Transplantation is not a cure for kidney disease however, 67% of the North West public incorrectly believed it was. Kidney transplants last on average 10-15 years, but half of those in the North West think kidney transplants last a lifetime, highlighting the scale of the knowledge gaps around kidney disease.

Sandra Currie, chief executive at Kidney Research UK said:

“Despite their incredibly important role in keeping our body functioning, the kidneys are worryingly overlooked. These results confirm our fears that most people have very little understanding about the kidneys and kidney disease. Most concerning is the number of people who are unaware of their risk of developing kidney disease. In fact, we estimate around a million people in the UK could be living with kidney disease without knowing. This World Kidney Day, we’re urging everyone to use our online kidney health check to understand their risks.”

High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or a severe or frequent previous kidney infection are some of the most common risk factors for developing kidney disease. While not everyone who has been diagnosed with these conditions will develop the disease, the added risk means checking your kidney health regularly could identify signs of the disease early and lead to better outcomes.

Professor Rachel Lennon, Professor of Nephrology at the University of Manchester said:

“Our kidneys are really quite remarkable organs. Not only are they vital for removing waste products from the body but they also help maintain our
levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium. Despite their significance in keeping us healthy, the survey results show that we urgently need to improve public awareness about kidney function and the risk of kidney disease. Picking up the early signs of kidney
disease means that patients have a much better chance of delaying the progression of kidney failure and ultimately putting off gruelling treatments such as dialysis or a transplant. Kidney disease affects all age groups, and a simple urine test and blood pressure check can highlight whether there are signs of kidney disease.”

The charity is encouraging everyone to understand that their kidneys matter and to use their dedicated online kidney health check to find out whether they are at risk: www.kidneyresearchuk.org/kidneyhealthcheck.  


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