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Live Kidney Donation Safe For Donor

In the US more people are developing kidney failure, and are becoming candidates for a transplant

Most of the studies on kidney donation focus on the recipients and how well they adjust to their new kidneys. A new study documents how well donors fare after the surgery.

Kidneys are the most sought after donor organs around the world, according to the World Health Organization. To address the shortage, some hospitals have created programs that pair prospective donors with recipients.

In 2006, the Johns Hopkins University Hospital held a news conference to announce a successful operation involving 10 people: five donors and five recipients.

Dr. Dorry Segev was one of the surgeons. He outlined the problem in an interview with VOA. "Every year we list more and more people for a kidney transplant and that's because more and more people are developing kidney failure, more people are becoming candidates for a transplant," he stated.

People often become donors because a loved one needs a kidney. Some do it for altruistic reasons. That was Judy Payne's motive. "It didn't seem to be that hard of a decision. I like to give to others. I like to share what I can of my blessings," she said.

Dr. Segev studied more than 80,000 live kidney donors from the time of surgery until three months afterwards. "What we found is that live donation is very safe, the risk of dying from donating a kidney is 3 in 10,000 which is much lower than the risk of almost any other operation that you can undergo."

Dr. Segev says the research snows that men and African-Americans have a slightly higher risk of dying after donation than other groups, but the risk is still small and that it has nothing to do with having only one kidney. "If you match live donors to other healthy people in the population there is no increased risk of dying down the road attributable to having only one kidney instead of two," he said.

Research shows that the number of donors over the age of 50 has doubled. That's one reason doctors want to know the risk of all groups of people before heading into surgery.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.