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Kidney Donors' Life Spans Not Shortened

Donors Not at Increased Risk of End-Stage Renal Disease, Study Says

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 28, 2009

Jan. 28, 2009 -- Giving up a kidney doesn’t reduce survival rates of donors,a new study says.

What’s more, a report in the Jan. 29 edition of the New England Journalof Medicine says the risk of end-stage renal disease is not increased inkidney donors.

The researchers, headed by Hassan N. Ibrahim, MD, of the University ofMinnesota, analyzed the records of 3,698 kidney donors who donated from 1963 to2007, assessing risk of developing end-stage renal disease. They also examinedthe health status and quality of life in a subgroup of 255 donors. Theresearchers found that the life expectancy of donors is similar to that ofnon-donors, or possibly even longer; and donors don’t have an excessive risk ofdeveloping end-stage renal disease.

In the study, end-stage renal failure developed in 11 people, which wouldtranslate to a rate of 180 cases per million people per year. In the generalpopulation, the rate would be 268 cases per million per year.

“Most donors had quality of life scores that were better than populationnorms,” the authors write.

Also, the prevalence of coexisting conditions occurring after donation wassimilar to that among people in a non-donor comparison group, the articlesays.

Kidney transplantation from living donors is the treatment of choice forpeople with end-stage renal disease.

Jane C. Tan, MD, and Glenn Chertow, MD, of the Stanford University School ofMedicine, say in an accompanying editorial that the findings of the Ibrahimstudy are impressive, given the number of people studied. But the results, theysay, weren’t surprising because the people who donated kidneys would be inbetter shape than others in the general population.

Kidney donors, they say, must pass stringent evaluations before beingallowed to donate.

Ibrahim says he received consulting fees from the Chronic Disease ResearchGroup in Minneapolis and served on an advisory board for the pharmaceuticalcompany Roche. Several others involved in the study reported receiving feesfrom drug companies.