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Sickle cell kidney disease


What is sickle cell kidney disease?

Your kidneys normally remove waste from your blood. They have many small blood vessels that help do this. The waste becomes part of your urine (pee) and goes out of your body.

If sickle cell disease blocks normal blood flow to the kidneys, they do not get enough oxygen. This keeps them from working well. Your child’s St. Jude team might say your child has kidney disease or “renal disease.” Another name for sickle cell kidney disease is “sickle cell nephropathy” (say “neff-RAW-puh-thee”).

How does sickle cell kidney disease affect my child?

If your child’s sickle cell disease affects their kidneys, your child could have some or all of the conditions below.

  • Protein in the urine — Protein does not normally leave the blood through the kidneys. Having a lot of protein in the urine is a sign of sickle cell kidney disease.
  • Urine with too much water in it – Normal urine has a certain amount of waste in it. Urine that is mostly water, with less waste than usual, could be a sign of sickle cell kidney disease.
  • Blood in the urine – Your child’s urine might look bloody or brown. Or the blood might be invisible without a microscope.
  • High blood pressure – If your child has sickle cell disease, they usually have low blood pressure. Sickle cell kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.

How does the doctor find sickle cell kidney disease?

Your child’s health care team might take a urine sample to check for kidney disease. A laboratory tests the urine for protein, blood, and a substance called “creatinine” (say “kree-AT-uh-neen”). Too much of these substances can mean the kidneys are not working normally.

  • If the test finds blood, protein, or creatinine, your child’s doctor might ask you to bring in a sample of their first urine in the morning.
  • If your child has high blood pressure, they might need to wear a measuring device for 24 hours.

What is the treatment for sickle cell kidney disease?

Blood pressure medicines are the usual treatment. 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 also helps prevent more kidney damage.


If you have questions about sickle cell kidney disease, please ask your child’s doctor or nurse. You may also call the sickle cell clinic at 901-595-5041. 


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).