• Question: Do we really need both our kidneys?

    Asked by cbond on 27 Apr 2020.
    • Photo: Kim Liu

      Kim Liu answered on 27 Apr 2020: last edited 27 Apr 2020 9:20 am


      It’s true that humans can survive with one kidney, but having two is better because one can act as a backup if one gets blocked/damaged (infection or kidney stone, for example).
      From a little more reading, some humans are born with only one kidney, and there exists a developmental mutation called a ‘horseshoe kidney’, where the two kidneys fuse together before birth.

    • Photo: Freya Harrison

      Freya Harrison answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      Like Kim said, it’s better to have two kidneys (mainly in case something goes wrong with one of them). But because we can survive with one, kidneys are one of the organs which living people can donate. It’s possible for someone to have one of their kidneys removed and transplanted into someone whose own kidney don’t work, as long as they are a tissue match. This usually happens when someone volunteers to see if they can be a donor for a relative or friend, you don’t get just asked to do it because you are on the organ donor register.

    • Photo: Natasha Aley

      Natasha Aley answered on 27 Apr 2020:


      The short answer is no, we don’t need 2 kidneys. My Dad only has 1 kidney and someone else I know has received a donated kidney because theirs don’t work properly.
      It’s always good to have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong, so humans have evolved to have 2 kidneys so that one can take over if the other is damaged in some way. For example, it’s quite common, especially in females, to have a urinary tract infection which can spread to a kidney if not treated. So in these cases the healthy kidney can take over while the other one is fighting off the infection.

    • Photo: Candice Ashmore-Harris

      Candice Ashmore-Harris answered on 29 Apr 2020:


      As everyone else has said, you can survive with only one kidney but it’s better to have two in case one gets damaged. I actually know a scientist who has THREE kidneys. It is pretty rare, but they were born this way, they didn’t receive one from a transplant and they’re otherwise healthy.

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