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What is kidney failure?

1) What is kidney failure?

Answer:Kidney failure is a medical condition when the kidney fails to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood. Since kidney is also vital in producing red blood cell, kidney failure is always associated with anemia. There are 2 types of kidney failure- ACUTE or CHRONIC. Acute kidney failure means the failure occurs within a short duration wheareas chronic kidney failure means the failure happens progressively and slowly over months/years.

2) How many new end kidney failure patients per year in Malaysia?

Answer:According to Malaysian National Renal Registry (NRR) report in 2010, there are about 4500-4700 new haemodialysis patients every year in Malaysia. There are currently about 24,000 haemodialysis patients in Malaysia. These figures do not include those who are on peritoneal dialysis.

3) Who will get kidney failure?

Answer: In most cases ( more than 50%), chronic kidney failure is due to diabetes mellitus, however, there are about 20-30% of kidney failure is due to unknown causes. We believe it is due to chronic glomerulonephritis. Other causes include hypertension, obstructive uropathy, polycystic kidney etc.

4) What symptoms will I have if I have chronic kidney disease?

Answer: You are usually asymptomatic ( meaning you are otherwise well). Chronic kidney disease is a silent disease, you will only experience some symptoms such as fatigue, leg swelling, nausea,vomiting or shortness of breath when the disease is very advanced.

5) What should I do if I have kidney failure?


  • Listen and discuss renal replacement therapy option with your nephrologist.
  • Prepare mentally and physically to undergo renal replacement therapy in near future.
  • DO NOT delay your treatment because chronic kidney failure does kill!!

6) Will I die if I have kidney failure?

Answer: Yes, when you have advanced chronic kidney failure, toxins built up in your body and lead to severe complications including death!

7) Is it true that kidney failure patients can not live long?


  • It is absolutely not true that chronic kidney failure patients can’t live long!
  • According to Malaysian NRR report, yearly mortality for chronic haemodialysis patients is about 10%.
  • Although end stage renal failure patients on dialysis can not live as long as normal population, it is certainly better than end stage renal failure kidney failure patients without treatment.
  • Your prognosis will be better if you plan your renal replacement therapy early and timely.

8) People can recover from kidney failure, is it true?

Answer: Yes, you can recover from ACUTE kidney failure BUT not CHRONIC kidney failure. Discuss your condition with your nephrologist!

9) Is there any alternative for end stage kidney failure patients besides dialysis?

Answer: Yes, you can go for kidney transplantation.

10) What is renal replacement therapy?

Answer: A therapy that substitutes your kidney function, there are 3 options available- haemeodialysis (HD), peritoneal dialysis (PD) or kidney transplantation.

11) When should I start on dialysis?

Answer: Usually your nephrologist will calculate your kidney function based on various formulas and decide the timing of initiation of dialysis. However, besides numbers, your symptoms also play a major role in deciding the timing. You have discuss this with your nephrologist.

12) Follow Up

Answer: Follow ups are important for your nephrologist to monitor your progress and kidney function. Call our clinic to make changes if can’t make it to your scheduled appointment.

13) Phone enquiries

Answer: It would be appreciated if you could also restrict all telephone enquires to the listed visiting times and nominate one family member to make calls due to the busy nature of the ward/clinic. Thank you.

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