About Polyscystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic Kidney Disease (also called PKD) is a chronic, genetic disease causing uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidneys eventually leading to renal failure. There is no cure for PKD and very few options for treatment. Once a PKD patient has reached end stage renal function, their only current treatment options are to be on dialysis or to get a kidney transplant.
PKD is genetic, which means it is passed down within families. Patients with Autosomal Dominant PKD have a 50% chance of passing the gene along to their children. Because of this, families with a PKD gene often have many effected relatives, which can make it difficult to find available living kidney donors related by blood.
A typical kidney is the size of a human fist and weighs about a third of a pound. However, PKD kidneys can be much larger. As the cysts grow over many years, a PKD kidney becomes larger and larger until the cysts prevent the kidney from functioning. PKD kidneys can grow as large as a football and can weigh 30 pounds each. PKD unfortunately affects both kidneys. Having kidneys this big can cause a PKD patient a great deal of pain as their kidneys push on other organs and create pressure on the entire abdomen and chest.