This book was written for you, the kidney patient, in order to explain the forms of treatment available and what they mean for the quality of your life. It has been prepared by the Kidney Transplant/Dialysis Association, Inc., a non-profit, all-volunteer organization of dialysis and transplant patients, their families, and friends.

We of the KT/DA have been through what you are experiencing, and we understand your fears, doubts, and anxieties. It is our hope that this book will answer many of your questions and indicate where you can find the answers to others.

Chapter 1 explains what the kidneys are and how they function, both in healthy individuals and in persons with kidney failure. Chapters 2 through 9 deal with dialysis. Chapters 10 to 13 pertain to transplantation, while Chapters 14 to 20 treat a variety of topics of interest to kidney patients. The chapters are largely self-contained and may be read in any order. Since some are more technical than others, you may want to skip around.

Some of the chapters, especially those written by patients, were contributed years ago for the first edition. Wherever appropriate, we have updated the information or added explanatory footnotes where figures are out of date.

We wish to thank the many professionals and patients who contributed chapters to this handbook.

  Richard L. Faber, Ph.D.
Stephen W. Wilde