"We didn't really expect to see a lot of kidney issues with a respiratory virus, but we did," kidney specialist Dr. Larry Warmoth said.
In just a few months, doctors have discovered a strange new side-effect in COVID-19 patients: kidney failure.
"Usually it's when they get really sick in the hospital when they're critically ill, on a ventilator, on medicines to keep their blood pressure up, that's usually when we see the kidneys start to fail," Dr. Warmoth said.
Between 20 to 40% of those critically ill COVID-19 patient, eventually require dialysis.
"If they go on dialysis and they're on a ventilator, the mortality is in the 60, 70% range," he explained.
And it's not people who have kidney complications already that are affected.
"The patients we worry about the most about are the ones who get critically ill. Even if they have good kidneys, they can fail," Dr. Warmoth explained.
Because the virus is so new, doctors were not so sure about what was causing this at the beginning.
"At first, we really thought that it was one of the new anti-viral drugs we were using," Dr. Warmoth said. "But in fact, at least in discussion with one of the infectious diseases specialists, he really felt it was more related to the hypotension, low blood pressure, and just the massive amount of inflammatory molecules that take place inside someone that has coronavirus," he added.
Despite the frustrations brought on by the pandemic, Dr. Warmoth says it has been exciting for the medical community to learn new things and save lives while doing it.