The coronavirus is damaging kidneys

COURTESY OF SONIA TOURE

(Stacey Burling/ Philadelphia Inquirer) — When the new coronavirus stormed the Northeastern United States this year, Alan Kliger, a Yale University kidney specialist, thought it would behave like a typical respiratory virus.

There had been signals from China that the new disease was hard on kidneys, but nephrologists like Kliger were not prepared for what happened when cases surged in New York. So many patients suffered kidney injury that dialysis supplies ran short.

Two studies of New York patients found that 68% to 76% of intensive-care patients with COVID-19 had kidney damage. In one, a third of ICU patients needed dialysis, a process in which a machine performs the kidney’s blood-filtering work.

It is too early to know whether survivors of serious COVID-19 will have long-lasting kidney damage, but doctors are worried. “People are just waking up to the fact that the kidney is an unappreciated manifestation [of COVID-19] but one that is pretty important,” said Girish Nadkarni, a nephrologist and researcher at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. “There might be an epidemic of post-coronavirus kidney disease coming.” (…)

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