A recent article in the British Medical Journal says that kidney stones can double the risk of a person requiring dialysis or transplants. The study looked at over 3 million patients in Alberta, Canada over a 12 year period. They reported that those with a history of kidney stones were twice as likely to have serious kidney problems later in life when compared to people who had never suffered from kidney stones. Age was also an important factor (perhaps giving time for more damage to occur?) as those under 50 had more problems than those over 50; women seemed more susceptible too - women under the age of 50 years who had a history of kidney stones were four times as likely to later develop kidney failure.
It should be noted that the actual number of those who ended up requiring dialysis was low, but the risk was greater than in the normal population. When you are passing a stone through a kidney, there is definitely the potential for permanent damage.
People could try to decrease the likelihood of the development of kidney stones by decreasing their sodium intake, drinking more water and, if needed, taking certain medication, the researchers suggest. It has been previously observed that those who develop kidney stones have kidneys that don’t function at optimal levels, which is a factor in the whole issue.