The average adult kidney is about the size of a fist. It works quietly and almost unnoticeably until something goes wrong, as anyone who’s ever experienced a kidney stone can attest.
There are various conditions that can cause the kidney to grow beyond its normal size, with cysts being a leading culprit. The current Guinness World Record is held by Ahmed Saeed Mohammed Omar, who had a 9-pound, 6-ounce kidney removed at Dubai Hospital.
According to Guinness, the man had Polycystic Kidney Disease, and his kidney was no longer working, so Dr. Fariborz Bagheri and his team removed the offending organ.
Now, a new contender for the record of “largest kidney” has entered the ring. Hailing from New Delhi, India, the unnamed 56-year-old had a kidney removed that weighed 16.3 pounds.
As the man suffered from Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease, his kidney was covered in cysts.
“You don’t always to have to remove the kidneys in patients with this condition,” Dr. Sachin Kathuria, who performed the operation, told CNN. “Only if there’s an infection or bleeding from the tumors or cysts.”
“But in this case, the cyst had grown around the kidney and replaced it. It was occupying nearly the entire abdomen area.”
By the time the patient was at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, he was suffering from an infection that was leading to other complications like kidney failure and side pain.
“This patient had contracted a bad infection that was not responding to antibiotics, and the kidney’s massive size was causing the patient breathing difficulties, so we had no choice but to remove it,” Kathuria told the BBC.
“The cysts were at risk of haemorrhaging, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding,” he continued in his interview with CNN. “He was having trouble breathing because of the size of the kidneys pressing into other organs.”
The surgery took place in October, and the whole operation took two hours.
While a kidney the size of two newborns is no joke, it’s not the largest medically recorded kidney — even if the others weren’t submitted to Guinness World Records.
“One in the US was 9 kilograms (19.8 pounds) and the other in the Netherlands… was 8.7 (19.2 pounds),” Kathuria said. “We believe it is the largest that has been removed in India.”
Kathuria said though they haven’t submitted this specimen as a Guinness record contender yet, they are considering it.
However, the doctor also revealed that the man’s remaining kidney is even larger than the one they removed — so perhaps they’ll wait on that.
“His other kidney is bigger but we can’t remove it as he’d be on permanent dialysis,” the doctor said. “Considering further removal is only done if there is a kidney donor or the infections and symptoms get so bad that we have no other option.”
The single, giant kidney is still working, so for now doctors are leaving it in place.
The man has recovered from the surgery, but he is on dialysis and hoping for a kidney transplant.
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