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
From the WebMD Archives

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 Journal of Medicine says the risk of end-stage renal disease is not increased in kidney donors.

The researchers, headed by Hassan N. Ibrahim, MD, of the University of Minnesota, analyzed the records of 3,698 kidney donors who donated from 1963 to 2007, assessing risk of developing end-stage renal disease. They also examined the health status and quality of life in a subgroup of 255 donors. The researchers found that the life expectancy of donors is similar to that of non-donors, or possibly even longer; and donors don’t have an excessive risk of developing end-stage renal disease.

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

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

Also, the prevalence of coexisting conditions occurring after donation was similar to that among people in a non-donor comparison group, the article says.

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

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

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

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