As Oroville Hospital’s lead nephrologist, Dr. Subil Go is used to people having absolutely no idea what he does. Even if one explains that nephrology is the branch of internal medicine that deals exclusively with the functioning of the kidneys, that doesn’t necessarily help too much.
“I think a vast majority of patients don’t even know what a kidney is—there’s a huge vacuum of not knowing—versus a brain or a heart,” said Go. “When it gets to parts of the body such as the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, it’s much more nebulous.”
So, let’s start with a brief rundown of what the kidneys—that pair of bean-shaped, toxin-filtering organs located in the abdominal cavity on either side of the spine—actually do.
“The kidney is basically a filtration organ. It cleans out waste products from the body and helps with the elimination of toxins,” Go said. “It makes urine as the vehicle for eliminating toxins.”
The kidney also plays other important roles in the proper functioning of the human body, such as “hormone function—it aids in controlling vitamin D levels, and makes hormones to maintain blood health and bone health. One of the side effects of severe kidney disease is not enough blood.”
The kidneys, he explained, “communicate with the bone marrow to create blood”—no small job. “The kidney basically senses the need for new blood,” said Go. “Once the kidney receptor feels like there is insufficient blood, it sends a message to the bone marrow by way of hormones to make more blood. In kidney disease, the kidney is unable to message the bone marrow.”