COMMENTARY

Altruistic Kidney Donation: Is It a Cause for Regret?

Ron Shapiro, MD

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July 23, 2010

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Hi, my name is Ron Shapiro. I'm a transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh. Today, I want to talk to you about altruistic kidney donors.

Years ago, people who would call and offer to donate one of their kidneys to a perfect stranger were politely shown the door and told to hang onto their kidneys. In recent years, however, beginning at the University of Minnesota and moving on to many centers around the world, altruistic kidney donors have been accepted as reasonable living kidney donors [after appropriate evaluation].

This is a study from The Netherlands[1] that looks at psychological evaluations of about 2 dozen altruistic kidney donors after donation. It is a very reassuring study because it finds that the donors were, in general, quite satisfied and pleased with having gone through the process of donating the kidney and would do it again were the situation ever to come up.

There are very few data with regard to would-be donors in general following donation, and certainly almost no data with regard to altruistic kidney donors. And so, this is a welcome contribution to the literature.

Thank you.

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