World Kidney Day: Know Your Kidneys

Published on March 11, 2021 | Established in 2006, World Kidney Day, the second Thursday in March, is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys. Kidneys are crucial in removing toxins and excess water from your blood, helping control your blood pressure, producing red blood cells, and keeping your bones healthy. As we celebrate World Kidney Day, let’s review the importance of kidney health and how it connects to PKD.

World Kidney Day

This year, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease.” Effective symptom management, patient empowerment, and life participation are key awareness initiatives. Much like the PKD Foundation, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee wants to advance patient-centeredness in research, practice, and policy.

What Do Kidneys Do?

Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning—what do kidneys do? Roughly the size of your fist, kidneys are located beneath your rib cage and on either side of the spine. And they’re a powerhouse. Here’s everything your kidneys are in charge of:

  • Removing waste and extra fluid from your body
  • Controlling your body’s chemical balance
  • Producing a form of Vitamin D to strengthen bones
  • Making urine
  • Controlling red blood cells


Kidney Health and PKD

In its mission, World Kidney Day hopes to reduce the impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. Kidney diseases like PKD. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disease (passed from an affected parent to their child) causing uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidney eventually leading to kidney failure. Though kidneys are normally the size of your first, PKD kidneys can be much larger. Some even grow as large as a football—weighing up to 30 pounds each. The number of cysts can vary, with cyst sizes ranging from a pinhead to as large as a grapefruit.

Staying Healthy with PKD


While there’s no specific diet proven to make polycystic kidneys better, a balanced diet is important. A healthy body is able to fight infection better and bounce back faster. In working with a dietician, they may recommend changes to your diet, such as limiting protein and sodium. Check out additional nutrition information and our Cooking Well cookbook, but remember every body is different.


Much like diets, there’s no one best kind of exercise. The key is finding an activity that’s comfortable and one you enjoy doing. Walking, swimming, and biking can all be great exercises that are easy on your kidneys. Remember to always keep well hydrated when exercising! See how three of our community members stay motivated to exercise and find more healthy tips in past issues of PKD Life.

Before starting an exercise routine, be sure to talk with your doctor. He or she may have guidance about what will be most effective for you, or what to avoid.

Want to continue raising awareness after World Kidney Day? Visit the Foundation’s National Kidney Month page to see how you can promote awareness all month long!


  1. Mary

    You should also mention that it is not only the kidneys affected but other organs such as the liver. The liver enlarges also and not much can be done,so the person suffers.

  2. Aiyuna Monroe

    We are a PKD family. My kidneys are somewhat enlarged, but not huge, and as far as I know, my mother’s were not especially enlarged, either. However I have two sons whose kidneys are absolutely huge. One, the size of footballs, bad enough, but the other son’s are even larger than that. First son was on dialysis for a couple of years or so before getting a transplant. Second son is not yet on dialysis, with a GFR in the 30’s. What makes the difference in the size (cysts, I know, but why mine are just a little enlarged, and theirs are so huge).
    Also would like to know why they will not remove those huge kidneys. They cannot have peritoneal dialysis because there’s no room for the fluid. I’d appreciate any information/insight as to this problem.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email