Living Kidney Donors Who Develop Kidney Failure: Excerpts of Their Thoughts

Colin M.E. Halverson, Jackie Y. Wang, Michael Poulson, Jennifer Karlin, Megan Crowley-Matoka, Lainie F. Ross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Psychosocial data about living kidney donors have been collected for almost 5 decades now. To date, however, no study has provided any psychosocial follow-up of donors who developed a serious health problem such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Methods: Donors who developed ESRD were invited to participate in a qualitative interview if they met one or both of the inclusion criteria: (1) developed ESRD within 10 years of donating and/or (2) lacked health insurance at the time of donation. We contacted 38 individuals who met these criteria, and 22 participated (58%). Two were subsequently excluded from analysis. Results: Twenty qualitative interviews were analyzed. Five findings are described: (1) donors describe the decision-making process as spontaneous and fast; (2) donors describe lack of appreciation for the need for post-donation self-care; (3) donors do not regret donating despite the adverse outcome; (4) donors advise future donors to have in place emotional and physical support post donation; and (5) donors appreciate the opportunity to tell their story from being a living donor to living with ESRD, which virtually all perceive as 2 separate unrelated events. Conclusions: Most donors are positive about their donation decision and experience and would donate again, despite developing ESRD themselves. They propose some important changes to the decision-making and informed-consent processes. Our data are reassuring regarding lack of donor regret, but highlight the need for living donor transplant programs to ensure that living donors understand their long-term risks and receive appropriate life-long follow-up care to minimize these risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Nephrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Adverse outcome
  • Ethics
  • Kidney donor
  • Living donor
  • Psychosocial
  • Qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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