Melania Trump’s medical procedure, reportedly an embolization of a kidney cyst, may have been far more extensive than is being reported and signals the possibility that she has a rare, hereditary and sometimes fatal kidney disease.
The affliction is known as adult polycystic kidney disease or PKD. The disease has no known cure.
Clusters of cysts develop primarily within the kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time, according to the Mayo Clinic. The cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid.
They vary in size, and can grow very large. Having many cysts or large cysts lead to high blood pressure and kidney damage or failure. They can also develop in the liver.
Beside high blood pressure, other symptoms include back or side pain, headaches, a feeling of fullness, enlarged kidneys, blood in urine, and urinary tract and kidney infections.
People with polycystic kidney disease have a higher risk of a brain aneurysms and heart valve abnormalities. The disease can also affect the colon, according to the Clinic.
Questions about Melania’s condition have been raised by the length of her hospital convalescence and the fact that she’s remained out of the public eye for almost three weeks.
When cysts are detected an “embolization procedure” is sometimes the recommended treatment. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America describes it this way:
“In this procedure, an interventional radiologist uses imaging guidance to insert a catheter into a primary artery and advance it to blood vessel leading to a tumor or other area where the bloody supply needs to be blocked.”
Because the surgery is non-invasive, patients are generally discharged the same day, if the can walk, according to medical references.
“Kidney embolization procedures are generally well tolerated,” John Friedewald,, medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Women’s Health on Monday.
But Melania spent four days in the hospital, suggesting her treatment was far more extensive and possibly involved multiple cysts. Her long convalescence at home also raises red flags about her condition.
If she has the disease, one possible scenario suggests that Melania may be undergoing dialysis until her kidneys regain their function. A kidney transplant may also be required, which would require a longer time to recover.
The first lady underwent an embolization procedure on Monday, May 14. Her office said it was to treat a benign, or non-cancerous, cyst, according to London’s Daily Mail.
She hasn’t been seen in public for 22 days since then and will not be joining her husband at the presidential retreat known as Camp David this weekend, according to The Associated Press.