Emotional and Financial Experiences of Kidney Donors over the past 50 Years: the RELIVE Study

Most kidney donors view their experience positively, but some donors experience negative outcomes related to donation. Researchers from the Renal and Lung Living Donors Evaluation Study (RELIVE) recently published findings in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) that examine the factors that shape these outcomes for living kidney donors.

Dr. Cheryl Jacobs, the lead author of this study, was pleased to find “that this large kidney donor cohort confirmed that the majority feel good about their choice to donate and overall donor experience.” However, she states that this study “reinforced that individuals remain at greater risk for a poor psychosocial outcome when their recipient loses graft function. Perhaps those donors should be given additional attention once this becomes known to the donor team.”

Although the majority of donors viewed their overall donation experience positively, almost 1 in 10 donors reported at least one negative consequence related to donation. Dr. Jacobs noted, “Our study revealed that unrelated donors, those with complications or emotional difficulty post donation were groups more likely to feel less supported by others; including health care providers. (Overall, 38% did not feel supported by hospital staff.) More can be done to serve all living donors after surgery, while targeting specific known risk factors revealed within the study.”

Some donors were financially burdened by the experience, and some experienced insurance difficulties.  Dr. Jacobs expressed concern, saying, “The financial impact and sacrifices made by donors are unsettling. Our findings that one in 20 experienced a moderate to extreme financial burden due to donation, and 19% took unpaid employment leave to donate support some form of financial assistance and policy deserves serious consideration.”

CITATION:Jacobs CL, Gross CR, Messersmith EE, Hong BA, Gillespie BW, Hill-Callahan P, Taler SJ, Jowsey SG, Beebe TJ, Matas AJ, Odim J, Ibrahim HN; RELIVE Study Group. Emotional and Financial Experiences of Kidney Donors over the Past 50 Years: The RELIVE Study. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Oct 13. pii: CJN.07120714. [Epub ahead of print]
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