Treatment for kidney failure

When you have kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD), it means your kidneys have stopped working well enough for you to live without treatment. There is no cure for kidney failure, but with treatment many people with kidney failure are able to keep doing activities they want or need to do. Talk to your doctor about which treatment is best for you.

white dialysis technician
patient receiving dialysis


Dialysis is a treatment that uses a machine to clean your blood. Dialysis will do the work that your kidneys are no longer able to do. You can do dialysis at a dialysis center or at home. Dialysis cannot do everything that healthy kidneys do. This means you may have some of the health problems that come with kidney failure even though you are on dialysis.

kidney transplant

Kidney transplants

A kidney transplant is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone else's body. A kidney transplant may come from a living donor or from a deceased donor. The healthy kidney can do the job that your kidneys did when they were healthy. A kidney transplant is not a cure, but a treatment for kidney failure. You will need to take medicines and take special care of your transplanted kidney for the rest of your life.

medicine pills

Medical management

If you choose not to get dialysis or a transplant, medical management is a way to help you live comfortably and do some activities. Medical management uses medicine and kidney-friendly eating to lower the symptoms of kidney disease and help you feel better. Medical management is not a treatment for kidney failure and it will not keep you alive.

doctor explaining chart to patient

Clinical trials

A clinical trial is a research study to see how well a medicine works and if it is safe. Clinical trials rely on volunteers to join, and researchers protect their safety using a research plan that is reviewed by experts. Clinical trials for kidney disease test things such as: 

  • New treatments for kidney disease or ways of lowering symptoms 
  • Ways to improve current treatments
  • New ways of finding signs of kidney disease