Long-Term Health Risks Low for Kidney Donors
Study Shows People Who Donate Kidneys Have Good Long-Term Survival Rates
March 9, 2010 -- Kidney donors fare just as well as non-donors over the long
term, according to a new study.
Researchers compared survival rates of kidney donors to healthy adults who
were not kidney donors and found kidney donation did not affect long-term
"Regardless of what physiologic changes might occur in a healthy adult after
kidney donation, our findings of similar long-term survival between donors and
healthy comparison patients suggest that these physiologic changes do not
result in premature death,” write researcher Dorry L. Segev, MD, PhD, of Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues in the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
Although kidney donors face a higher risk of death in the 90 days
immediately following surgery because of the risks inherent in major
surgery, researchers say the findings confirm that the practice of live kidney
donation should continue to be considered a reasonable and safe alternative to
using deceased donor organs.
The use of live kidney donation has increased dramatically in recent years
due to a major donor organ shortage in the US. An estimated 6,000 people
undergo the surgery to remove one of their kidneys for donation each year.
The study followed more than 80,000 people who underwent kidney donation
surgery between 1994 and 2009 and compared them to a matched group of 9,364
healthy participants in a nationwide health survey for an average of about six
The results showed there were 25 deaths within 90 days of live kidney
donation surgery, with the risk of death being 3.1 per 10,000 donors compared
to a death rate in the comparison group of 0.4 per 10,000 people during the
same time period.
Researchers found men, African-Americans, and donors with high blood
pressure were more likely to die from complications of live kidney donation
surgery than others.
By one year after live kidney donation, however, researchers found the risk
of death among kidney donors was similar to the healthy comparison group and
was attributable to other pre-existing illnesses rather than the surgery.
Overall, the study showed the long-term risk of death was similar or lower
among live kidney donors than in the comparison group: 0.4% vs. 0.9% at five
years and 1.5% vs. 2.9% at 12 years, respectively.