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2.16. renal = everything kidney

If you live in Asia or are a recent immigrant, you've probably tasted a kidney. Boiled or red-cooked, grilled or stewed, a plump, animal kidney can be crunchy or tender depending on cooking method. A polycystic (human) kidney looks deep-fried and covered with bubbles, a gigantic shrimp cracker gone wrong.

Kidney and nephron structure & function are the stuff of nightmares for anatomy and physiology students everywhere. However, having to memorize what's permeable or not at which convoluted tubule or portion of loop of Henle limb, or having to also know all the medication actions at each of those parts, is nothing compared to having an actual issue with one's kidneys. If blood is the essence of life, kidneys are what keeps life pure and balanced enough to continue.

No larger than a computer mouse on each side, at just 0.5% of the entire body weight, the kidneys have to filter all of one's blood volume, about 150-180 L of blood each day, producing 1000-2000 ml of urine and reabsorbing the remaining fluid volume. Most drugs are filtered (and sometimes reabsorbed) by the kidneys.

Kidneys also regulate blood pressure and flow through hormones such as renin, prostaglandins, and bradykinins. They stimulate production of red blood cells through erythropoietin, thereby preventing anemia, and even stimulate absorption of calcium through activating vitamin D, to prevent osteoporosis. Chronic, poorly-controlled high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to kidney failure. When all function is lost, patients may look into transplant or dialysis.

The most in-demand human organ on the organ transplant list, a live donor kidney goes for $262,000 on the black market, and that's not counting medical bills during recovery, or immunosuppressant therapy for life.

An alternative to replacing a failing kidney is going on dialysis. A hemodialyzer serves as artificial kidneys: it removes waste, salt and extra water to maintain a safe level of potassium, sodium & bicarb in the blood.

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We are constantly exposed to so many chemicals, so much information, stress and different energies daily that we need some kind of filter for it all. So that our systems aren't overwhelmed, we must toss out the toxic and bad, keeping the good, necessary nutrition and lessons learned. In order to go through life as an emotionally balanced, sane, person, filtration is a required yet difficult, lifelong skill.


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