Study finds high percentage of patients with a severe COVID-19 infection will end up with kidney injury, often fatal


Acute kidney injury associated with severe COVID-19 leads to high mortality rates
For Immediate Release

Severe cases of a COVID-19 infection can cause a host of serious complications, one of them being acute kidney injury. In a recent published study, scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) have found that acute kidney injury in patients with a severe COVID-19 infection is leading to a high mortality rate.

“These are patients who did not have kidney disease, or kidney injury prior to contracting COVID-19,” explains Dr. Peter Blake, Lawson researcher and Provincial Medical Director at the Ontario Renal Network. “This is what we call acute kidney injury, and in the case of these severe COVID-19 patients the kidney injury led to the need for acute dialysis.”

By accessing data collected through the Ontario Renal Network (ORN), Dr. Blake and his colleagues were able to examine 271 people at 27 renal programs across the province, including patients at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), who received acute dialysis for acute kidney injury due to a COVID-19 infection. The data examined was from the duration of the first two waves of the pandemic, up to January 31st, 2021.

“This is a complication that is occurs in 10 per cent of ICU COVID-19 cases,” says Dr. Blake, who is also a nephrologist at LHSC. “Men accounted for more than 75 per cent of this condition, half of the patients were diabetic and the majority of these patients were not seniors in the later stages of life, but rather middle-aged people.”

The provincially-collected data through the ORN also showed that patient populations living in postal codes with high ethnocultural deprivation were more likely to get this condition, at a rate of more than 60 per cent, and survival rates were not promising.

“The mortality rate was shockingly high with 64 per cent of these patients dying within 90 days,” adds Dr. Blake. “Many of those who survived remained in hospital for a long period of time and the one in five that did survive have remained on long-term dialysis.”

This study has been published in the Clinical Kidney Journal.  Looking ahead, the research team plans to follow up with patients who have survived this severe complication to track what lasting health affects occur within a six-to twelve-month post-survival period.


About Lawson Health Research Institute

Lawson Health Research Institute is one of Canada’s top hospital-based research institutes, tackling the most pressing challenges in health care. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, our innovation happens where care is delivered. Lawson research teams are at the leading-edge of science with the goal of improving health and the delivery of care for patients. Working in partnership with Western University, our researchers are encouraged to pursue their curiosity, collaborate often and share their discoveries widely. Research conducted through Lawson makes a difference in the lives of patients, families and communities around the world. To learn more, visit

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Lawson Health Research Institute
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