January is birth defects prevention month, it should also be birth defect awareness month. Birth defects are one of those things people don’t talk about. Many view people with them as outcasts. It is true that some defects are due to carelessness of the expectant mother, however there are many times that there is no way to prevent a birth defect. The cause of birth defects goes unknown for many. In fact some people live a good portion of their lives without ever knowing that they have an internal birth defect. I am one of those people. I never suspected that I had a birth defect and neither did my parents. It was an accident that I found out.
Last January, I went to have cystoscopy. In simple terms this means I had a bladder scope. There are a number of reasons cystoscopy are preformed, for example to look for interstitial cystitis, other bladder disorders, or kidney stones. Generally this is a short scope. Many people remain awake for it. I insisted on being put to sleep and was informed later on that it was the right descion. Right before my cystoscopy I met the doctor who would be preforming the scope on me. We discussed my symptoms and pain. He decided that it would be beneficial to look in my kidneys to see if I had additional stones. As we made our way into the OR, the doctor instructed one of the nurses to clear the schedule for the remained of the morning because my scope would take a while.
My scope took nearly an hour. I woke up in extreme pain. For me the cystoscopy was by far the most painful scope I have ever had done. The nurse begged me to go back to sleep, but I was in too much pain to rest. In addition I needed to use the bathroom. The nurse insisted that I didn’t need to go and argued with me for a while before going to get my mom. Of course I was sleepy when she came back. I could tell by the look on her face that they had found something during the cystoscopy. Fear and joy leaped within me. Joy that someone found something. Fear of what it could be. She told me that I had three kidneys and three ureters.( The doctor was so excited because he has never seen this before). Then explained that I had a stent in my left ureter because they had seen something on that side. I was in awe that I made it to merely a few days before my twentieth birthday and never knew that I had three kidneys.
The medical term for this is a fused Supernumerary Kidney. The kidneys on my right side are fused together which is why no one noticed I had an extra. My right ureters are twisted together. Less than 100 cases are documented worldwide currently. If it is caught during childhood it is removed. Many times the extra kidney begins giving the person trouble during their late teens to early twenties. No research is being done about supernumerary kidneys because it is so rare. Most doctors have minimal knowledge about it.
Nearly everyone who hears that I have an extra kidney think it is cool and ask, “Can you donate the extra one?” Sadly I can’t. No one wants my extra one, it would just give more issues to them. My extra one might be the cause to some of my kidney issues as well as some of my abdominal pain. It does not function a 100%.