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Kidneys Remove Waste and Maintain Body Chemistry to Keep You Healthy

Kidneys are important organs that filter waste and excess water from our blood and help balance chemicals in the body. Most people have two fist-sized kidneys, located on either side of the spine just under the rib cage. Kidneys—shaped like a kidney bean—contain tubes called ureters that connect them to the bladder.

Much of the waste in our blood comes from the food we eat. The body uses what it needs for energy and repairs and then sends the rest to the bloodstream as waste. In addition, the normal breakdown of muscle and other tissues produces waste that goes into the bloodstream. Kidneys filter approximately 200 quarts of blood on a daily basis and produce about two quarts of waste and excess water. The waste products become urine, which flows through the ureters to the bladder.

Each kidney contains a million little structures called nephrons, which perform the actual waste removal process. Inside each nephron is a glomerulus—a tiny blood vessel that acts as a sieve. Normal proteins and cells are kept in the blood while waste products and extra water are allowed to pass through. The glomerulus is wrapped around a tiny tubule that collects the urine after a complex chemical exchange.

The tubule receives both waste materials and chemicals that the body needs including sodium, phosphorus and potassium. The kidneys measure out the proper mix of these chemicals and release them back into the bloodstream. In addition to cleansing the blood and maintaining proper body chemistry, the kidneys also produce hormones. Hormones made by the kidneys stimulate the bone marrow to make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and help to maintain calcium levels in the body.

When the kidneys are no longer able to perform these important functions, patients must undergo some type of dialysis. Hemodialysis, a common type of dialysis, filters the blood through an artificial kidney using a washing solution called a dialysate. Recently, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMC) recalled two of their dialysate component products—GranuFlo and NaturaLyte—because of misleading product labeling that could lead to fatal dosage problems.

Did you or a loved one receive a hemodialysis treatment using one of these recalled products between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012? If you suffered a heart attack during dialysis or shortly afterwards, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a GranuFlo attorney at Schmidt Kramer at (888) 476-0807 to learn more.