Explaining the Illustration: Most of us are born with two kidneys as seen above. However, according to the National Kidney Foundation, one out of 750 people are born with a single kidney. This is more common in males with the left kidney being the one more often absent. Our oldest son, who is almost ten, was diagnosed with this condition two years ago.
A nagging fear that has been in the back of my mind for almost two years was erased yesterday by the wand of a sonographer at a local hospital. Since September 27, 2006, I've had this foggy memory of a long ago conversation with a sonographer who was perfoming the standard second-term ultrasound for one of my pregnancies.
"I only see one kidney. Do you either of you have a history of this in your family?" she asked my husband and I.
"No," I said, not expecting that question at all. My husband agreed that we didn't have a history of single kidneys in the family.
"It must be how the baby is positioned then," she said.
'Yes, it must be that," I thought.
And that was the end of the topic until eight years later (on the very day noted above) when a pediatric specialist told me that our eldest son had a single kidney, dysplasia, and renal reflux. I was by myself with my son, two hours from home when I heard the news from the pediatric nephrologist (kidney doctor) after he received the results from the renal ultrasound and the flouroscopy that was performed an hour earlier. The diagnosis devastated me.
'Why on earth wasn't this found sooner?' I thought at the time. Like I had at the ultrasound years earlier, I wanted to deny that my child had a single kidney. I also wanted to deny the newly acquired knowledge that my guy's single kidney had some scarring and that it was connected to the bladder by an ill-positioned urinary tract that caused a backwash of bodily fluid from the bladder to the kidney (renal reflux).
But I was there for both tests and couldn't deny a problem when staff members made emergency appointments with a nephrologist and urologist. I was strong until I called my husband to tell him why I was late. Then, the tears flowed and my voiced wavered as I reported the news to my husband.
He was shocked too. Although the tests were ordered after a fairly serious urinary tract infected that resulted in a two-day hospital stay, neither of us expected the results to turn up anything serious.
Days after those enlightening tests, I remembered that long ago conversation with the sonographer who monitored the progress of my unborn son.
But which unborn son was it? Was that sonographer looking at my first son, now known to have kidney problems or my seemingly healthy second son? Deep down I knew that my young one didn't have some of the outward signs (like irregular shaped ears) like my older one did. But still I couldn't help but wondering and worrying a little.
I never confided my fears to the doctors, but when the nephrologist suggested we have our second son checked out I agreed quickly. Because my little one is neurotypical and does fairly well with tests, we were able to schedule an ultrasound appointment at our local hospital rather than with the pediatric hospital in Grand Rapids.
Our appointment was yesterday (July 28) at 3:30 p.m. The conversation with the sonographer this time couldn't have gone much better. My little five year old cooperated fully and the technician didn't ask any distressing questions as she performed the tests. Here is what she said before we left at about 3:50 p.m.
"He was the best patient of the day. Not just because of how well he behaved, but for how well his kidneys looked. He has beautiful kidneys," the sonographer told me.
'Oh, whew," I thought. I will worry about this no longer.