26 answers

Ultrasound Only Found One Kidney!

Hi Moms! I just left my docs office after having a third ultra sound for my second pregnancy. The first untrasound was at 18 weeks, second at 30 and third at 33. The first found everything to be ok. After the second, they indicated that my baby only has one kidney. The third ultrasound confirmed this. They're saying that there's a slight possibility that the kidney COULD BE someplace other than where it is expected to be, and to have the baby checked out at birth.

I am concerned because of the seemingly nonchalant attitude of the health care providers. They're saying, "Oh, your baby will be fine, there are lots of people out there with only one kidney..." I think this is a major problem and I am afraid that my newborn will have a difficult life. I was given no further advice and wasnt referred to anyone else for any further discussion.

What should I do?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all of your feedback! Very comforting during a time of need! We finally had our son a few weeks ago and he has both kidneys! The doctors could not see the other kidney because it was located lower than usual, in the pelvic region. We've seen a urologist and both are functioning properly. What a relief! Thanks again Moms!

Featured Answers

My father at the age of 77 discovered he only had one kidney after having an x-ray. He has lived a very active life having farmed until the age of 65. He is now 86 years old and has never had a kidney problem. After reading others comments it appears to happen more than we think. Try not to let this stress you out and think possitive thoughts. I know, better said than done.

My 41 year old husband was born with 1 kidney. He didn't find out about it until his early 30s. He has lived a totally normal life.

More Answers

You should also still consider that ultrasounds can be WRONG...and often are. So long as the one kidney is healthy, there is no reason why your child won't live a perfectly normal life. Many people donate kidneys as an adult and recover, along with the recipients, to have no impaired function.

The only limitation that I've ever heard recommended is to avoid contact sports in order to avoid the possibility of damaging the remaining kidney.

I actually just googled "born with one kidney" and it says that 1 in 750 people are born with one kidney. That is a lot of people!

It is frustrating when healthcare providers aren't attuned to our emotions when this sort of news is relayed. Try not to take it personally, can you imagine what emotional wrecks doctors and nurses would be if they didn't keep a little distance?

You'll be okay. Your child will be okay. We have crazy good healthcare in this country. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and just get it checked after delivering by a pediatric urologist.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't think you should be overly concerned. Check with the doctors and follow through with what they say. Things are much more readily treated now than before. I can understand why you would worry, but I have some experience with this turning out just fine.

The medical professionals seem nonchalant about this because of their experience and exposure. To them it is within in the norm, routine. Your baby is not routine to you. That is understandable.

My DH is a grandpa. He has only one kidney and never even knew it til recently. No problems at all. His life has been completely normal. He even played high school football without problems. (People with only one kidney are not usually allowed to play football because of the remote possibility of kidney injury).

Another friend, now in his fifties, also has one kidney. Since he knew it in advance, he was not allowed to play HS football. He has not restricted his life in any other way. He is perfectly normal and healthy.

I hope you find this reassuring! Enjoy your pregnancy and give the baby a hug for me once born.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter had urinary reflux and basically has one kidney that isnt at a high level and one great kidney! I know.. not the same situation as you, but I was worried if that one bad kidney got hit or if she fell off her bike and then she would only have one kidney and the Nephroligist told us the same thing. You can live with one kidney. Not what you want to hear as a parent, but at the same time.....good news considering. My mother-in-law was kicked by a horse and only has one kidney now and she is fine also. I know it's frightening and as a parent you have every right to be very concerned and worried. I was and would be too! I know its hard, but try to hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

CHILL! They're right. I know of someone who only has one kidney. NO problems!!

My father at the age of 77 discovered he only had one kidney after having an x-ray. He has lived a very active life having farmed until the age of 65. He is now 86 years old and has never had a kidney problem. After reading others comments it appears to happen more than we think. Try not to let this stress you out and think possitive thoughts. I know, better said than done.

J -

My nephew was born with only one kidney. He is now almost 4, and has never had a problem. They do ultrasounds (yearly I think) to make sure everything is working properly. It has not been an issue for his health.


If you feel that it is something to be concerned about, then I would say do your own research and educate yourself as much as possible. You have a fair amount of time to get up to speed on the topic in the event that your little one is truly only going to have one kidney to function on. I am almost certain that if the doctors felt it was something that was going to change your child's life as he grows that they would discuss this with you. Trust in the Lord that He has placed the right doctors in your care with the wisdom to help you through this. :-) Congratulations on expecting!

I will have to echo your health care provider. There are plenty of people with only one kidney and most of them do just fine (many don't even know!).

I understand that it is upsetting, but as your doctor said, nothing is for sure at this point. Ultrasounds have become pretty good, but they do not catch everything. The kidney not being in it's expected location can happen too.

Try to relax. Go back to your doctor and get more information ....

I have one son with only one kidney. The other did not develop properly. I was evident on prenatal ultrasounds, but malformed. It has since shrunk and provides no function. (this is what the urologist wanted to see, indicating no tumors or more serious problems) His remaining kidney functions well, and he has very minimal follow up. The only recommendation I have recieved is that he not participate in sports requiring more than 2 pads.....hockey, football....all others are ok. Fine with me, I would rather see them playing tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, and fortunately it seems God blessed us with this child being the one with a passion for music and arts!
My OB was minimally concerned as well, just recommended follow after birth, my pediatrician reassured that until the last 20 years this is something that was never detected until a test in adulthood reveals only one kidney. All this after a perfectly normal childhood living in oblivion:)
Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and try not to worry too much. I wouldn't expect much more than a few extra doctors appointments.

I am sure you are upset but I will add to the chorus of people telling you not to panic.

I have experience with solid organ donation -- not directly as a donor or recipient, but coordinating it. Kidneys are organs that LIVING people are able to give to unrelated others so long as tissue types match up. It used to be that kidney recipients only got them from "cadaveric" donors -- for example, people who died in car accidents -- but the need was so great and the number of donors so small that the medical community decided it was ethical to allow people to give away (not sell!) one of their kidneys. The reason this is now allowed is that studies show that people who have only one kidney statistically live just as long as people with two.

So there are real numbers backing up that seemingly nonchalant attitude. I'm sure they are just trying to make you feel better, if it comes off as cold well that's a bedside manner problem that's for another post.

I have heard of situations where people wanted to donate their kidneys after death, but when the physicians went to get them they found only one, or a single horseshoe shaped kidney...there are so many anatomical variations that are considered normal and that you'd never even know about if a surgeon didn't look.

So try not to panic. This is not nearly as bad as being told there is a heart or brain problem, and it may not really pose a problem at all...in the days before ultrasound, you might never have known and it might never have mattered.

My sister was born with only 1 kidney. She just turned 19 and has led a pretty healthy life. She wasn't able to play contact sports but still danced. She is a beautiful dancer. I think you should play the "wait and see" card. There isn't anything you can do about it now and it will be what it will be. I'm sure your baby will be fine with 1 or 2 kidneys!

I know to have someone say your baby is mssing an organ must be very scary. However, having one kidney is very manageable. Due to an ATV accident my sister only has 1 kidney.

You do have to be more cautious with contact sports, make sure you stY hydrated and as an adult watch the alcohol intake, but that is about it. Stay calm.... It's going to be ok.

my friend's little girl has only one kidney and she was assured she could live a completely normal life, although she can't play contact sports, and she shouldn't drink alchohol (when she's older) much at all because if anything happens to the remaining one then that's when it becomes a problem. that was all there was to it. yes, it happens a lot. if you're still concerned google it, call your obgyn again and get some more answers. it is not an ideal situation, but it's not the end of the world. take heart.

I have one barely functioning kidney and have been that way since birth. Maybe because this was waaaaay back in the 70s, my parents were never told to keep me from contact sports but it makes sense to be a little more cautious.

I have learned thru trial and error to manage lifestyle choices to keep the good one I've got as healthy as possible. I stay hydrated, love organic cranberry juice, monitor caffeine and alcohol intake, and take ANY sign of a UTI very seriously, etc. All things considered, I rarely think about it and consider myself to have had care-free health.

I know you will worry cuz that's what good moms do. But I think it is fair to have 50% of your brain adjust to the idea that your child has one kidney and reserve the other 50% for the "ultrasounds are wrong all the time" scenario.

Hey J.! My dad is someone who was born with only one kidney. Of course, he is almost 65 and they didn't do ultrasounds when my grandma was pregnant. So, they didn't have the need to worry back then. It is obviously natural for you to worry when you find out that your child is not what you'd like to think of as "perfect". But, in all likelihood, as the doctors are saying, your baby is going to be perfectly healthy and live a long, healthy, and happy life. They only found out that my dad had one kidney by chance when he was having a scan done for something else. I hope this helps to put your mind at ease a little! Good luck!

My sister was born with one kidney and she is 78 years old so don't worry too much and Good Luck!

My grandmother was born in 1922 and only had one kidney. She lived into her sixties, had two kids, seven grandkids and was active and smart. She was a surgical nurse back when most women didn't work(it a very physically demanding job). She lived an active lifestyle and I saw her eat whatever she wanted including an insane amount of coffee with sweet and low sugar. She never knew there was only one functioning kidney until the end of her life when they ran some tests. I can't make promises for your baby but I do know my grandmother is one of those "lots of people out there with only one kidney"
God Bless

Hi J.,

When your baby is born they will most likely refer you to a pediatric nephrologist. A nephrologist deals with the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases, whereas a urologist is the surgical specialty that focuses on the urinary tracts of males and females, and on the reproductive system of males. Hopefully just tracking your baby's progress with the nephrologist will be all you'll have to do!

All my best,

My 41 year old husband was born with 1 kidney. He didn't find out about it until his early 30s. He has lived a totally normal life.

Well, yes, you only need one kidney. It's not a major problem and your baby won't have a difficult life - as long as the present kidney is functioning well and there's no reason to assume it isn't. They are right to not refer you to anyone else.
I'd be more worried that they aren't more sympathetic. If you have concerns they should talk to you, reassure you, make sure you are ok. There are some really bad OBs out there and it sound like you got one. I'd move on NOW. If they are like this now, imagine how they will act if you have to be cut open?! "Eh...it's just a c-section scar, lots of women have them, sure it hurts for a while..." then you find out you have a staph infection festering in there (this happened to a woman I know).

Find a new OB or midwife who listens to your concerns and addresses them until you are at ease.

If you are in Cleveland, I bet you can get a referral to a pediatric urologist, or at least a urologist that has experience with this sort of thing. Although the general concensus is that your child's life will likely be fine, I understand how you would be upset to learn that something isn't right, and fearful of the unknown. Since you can't control this, the best thing you can do is get informed and get a good specialist lined up who can provide expert recommendations and support upon examining your child. I hope things turn out well. J.

My daughter, who is almost 4, had her left kidney removed when she was only 22 months old. (she had a Wilhm's Tumor (cancer that overtook her kidney)) They told me she will live a full life with only one kidney and there are so many people living with only one kidney or only one kidney functioning that you would be amazed. She has no restriction on what she can or cannot do through her life. It is understandable for you to worry about this, but I am sure that your child will be healthy if he/she only had one kidney and everything else is normal.

If you, as a mother, are not comfortable and do not feel like your current doctor cares or is not taking the time to ease your mind on this, than by all means you should move on to someone else!! It is important to feel like you and your unborn child is taken care off.

May God bless you with a happy, healthy baby!

I would just pray for a fat healthy baby. There's nothing you can do until after the little one is here, so try not to let yourself get to stressed out. I'll say a prayer for you. I'm sure you'll have a beautiful healthy baby, just think about that :)

You only need one kidney. My son was born with one kidney that didn't work right. He had surgery at 4 weeks, and now, at 12 weeks, we are waiting for a few more tests to confirm that everything is OK. My point, kidney issues are very common, thus their nonchalant attitude.

What should you do? Try to not worry about it until you have a real reason to worry. After the baby is born, I'm sure they will do an ultrasound on the baby. Hang in there!

WOuld you have prefered them to do the opposite? To worry you to tell you all that could go wrong? They want you to remain calm. They want you to finish this pregnancy without any complications brought on from stress. Based on other responses this happens more frequently than we think and the doctors know that. If it was serious they would have told you. Ultrasounds do not show everything. I know it is hard not to worry especially with the hormones working overtime but you need to focus on what you know and not to read more into it. Try meditating and prayer. Listen to relaxing music. Share your concerns with your spouse so he can support you also.

We also had ultrasounds where they could only find one kidney in our daughter. After she was born, they did an ultrasound in the hospital and found a second kidney. It was ectopic, meaning it was located lower than normal, and was smaller in size than normal. Our daughter saw a pediatric urologist and had additional ultrasounds and a contrast CT to determine how her kidneys were functioning. Even the "missing" kidney functions well enough that if something happened to her "good" kidney, she would still be fine. She is 2 and potty training now and doing just fine. Really our only concern is protecting her ectopic kidney. Because it's not protected by her rib cage like the other, we may want to direct her away from contact sports or provide protection for that area while she's playing them. Our doctor said one of the most dangerous things for her when she's older will actually be driving in a car because the seatbelt will come across where her kidney is.

Try not to worry. It's possible that second kidney is still there and functioning at least partially but they just can't see it right now. And, even without it, there will be things to be careful of but it won't make her life miserable.

Good luck!

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