Kidney failure

Also called: renal failure, end stage renal disease, ESRD, Stage 5 chronic kidney disease

Kidney failure means that kidneys have failed and no longer work well enough to keep someone alive without dialysis or a kidney transplant. The word renal refers to kidneys, so you may see both of these words used. Therefore, kidney failure and renal failure mean the same thing—your kidney function is below 10% to 15% and you need renal replacement therapy to stay alive.

For most people kidney failure occurs after years of having chronic kidney disease. Your doctor may use the phrase end stage renal disease (ESRD) or Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) to indicate kidney failure. This is because chronic kidney disease has been divided into five stages by the National Kidney Foundation, so kidney failure is also called end stage or Stage 5.

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