Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
Sickle cell kidney disease happens because sickle-shaped red blood cells block normal blood and oxygen flow to the kidneys and inside the kidneys. This form of kidney disease is a side effect of sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease causes healthy red blood cells, which are round and soft, to become hard and shaped like a banana.
The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood. They have many small blood vessels that help do this. The waste and extra water become part of the urine (pee) and go out of the body.
Blood cells take oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. The sticky, banana-shaped blood cells that are common with sickle cell disease do not carry oxygen as well as round, flexible blood cells. Not getting enough oxygen affects how well the kidneys can remove waste and extra water.
Your child’s care team might call sickle cell kidney disease “renal disease,” “sickle cell nephropathy,” or “kidney disease.”
Here are some of the signs and symptoms your child’s sickle cell disease is affecting their kidneys:
Your child’s health care team might take a urine sample to check for kidney disease. The sample will be tested for:
Your child’s blood will be checked to follow some waste components in the blood. It will be tested for:
Too much of these substances can mean the kidneys are not working normally.
Blood pressure medicines are the usual treatment for sickle cell kidney disease. They help the kidneys stop losing protein your child’s body needs. They also lower your child’s blood pressure.
Controlling your child’s sickle cell disease with medication like hydroxyurea also helps prevent more kidney damage.
Reach out to your child’s care team if you have questions about sickle cell kidney disease.
Reviewed: September 2022