Kidneys are among the chief excretory organs of the body. The main function of the kidneys is to filter blood. It filters the blood and retains the toxic materials from it to excrete them in the form of urine. The filtered and thus purified blood is sent back to heart. The urine collected is carried by the ureter to the urinary bladder. Here the urine is stored till the bladder is full and triggers the sensation to urinate. Kidneys are two bean-shaped, about 11 cm long organs that are located behind the digestive system near the lower back. The kidneys function by maintaining the fluid balance of the body, creating hormones like the activated form of vitamin D called calcitrol that helps in calcium absorption in the intestines, erythropoietin that helps in production of red blood cells in the bone marrow and helps in regulating blood pressure as well.
After getting an overview of why and how kidneys function in the human body for maintaining acid-base balance, fluid balance and several other crucial functions, let us take a look at some lesser known but interesting facts about them.
Following are 10 facts about kidneys that you may not be aware of:
- For the body to function properly, the excretory system to work appropriately and for all the functions of the kidneys, both of them are not required. The functions can be smoothly carried out by a single kidney.
- The first successful kidney transplant was done in Boston by Joseph E. Smith and team in 1954.
- Each kidney is composed of around 1 million nephrons and each nephron is a filtering unit of the kidney.
- Kidneys produce around 1 to 2 litres of urine every day.
- Every day around 1,500 litre of blood is pumped by the kidneys to the heart.
- If a child has only one kidney at birth, till adulthood that single kidney is quite efficient in performing the functions of two kidneys while weighing the same as the combined average weight of two kidneys.
- The largest kidney stone was recorded to weigh a massive 1.1 kg and resembled a coconut in shape and size.
- Kidneys have the highest flow of blood as compared to heart and brain.
- On reaching 40 years of age, 1% of the nephrons start degenerating every year.
- The kidneys are very prompt in triggering more red blood cells production when they sense lees amount of oxygen in the body. So, when the red blood cell count increases, oxygen level also increases.