Do Kidney Donors Shorten Their Life?

This article examines whether donating a kidney affects life expectancy and long-term health risks for potential donors.

Do Kidney Donors Shorten Their Life?

Living donation does not alter life expectancy and does not appear to increase the risk of kidney failure. Generally, most people with a single healthy kidney have few or no issues; however, it is important to discuss the risks involved in donating with your transplant team. Knowing the long-term risks associated with kidney donation is essential for potential donors and their healthcare providers. Previous studies have focused on the heightened risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) as a result of kidney donation.

In this study, we demonstrate that donation can reduce the life expectancy of median-age donors by 1-2%. This analysis reveals that short-term studies do not provide an accurate picture of the long-term effects of kidney donation. Contrary to popular belief, donating a kidney does not reduce a person's life expectancy. On the contrary, studies show that people who donate a kidney outlive the average population.

Twenty years after the donation, 85% of kidney donors were still alive, while the expected survival rate was 66%. This could be because only healthy people are approved to be donors, or perhaps donors take extra health precautions after donating a kidney. Many kidney donors lead normal lives after kidney donation. The donation does not affect the function or survival of the remaining kidney.

On the other hand, the remaining kidney can increase its capacity by an average of 22.4%, known as “compensatory growth”. In general, kidney donation has minimal long-term risks, especially when compared to health risks in the general population. However, donating a kidney may slightly increase the risk that you will eventually develop kidney failure yourself, particularly if you are a middle-aged black man. The increased risk is minimal and translates to less than 1% chance of future kidney failure.

Compared to the general public, most kidney donors have equivalent (or better) survival, an excellent quality of life, and no increase in end-stage renal disease (ESKD). However, they are at risk of developing these conditions, whether they donate or not, and this will affect patient survival and loss of kidney function in both donors and non-donors. This study estimated the possible loss of life and the cumulative lifetime risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) due to live kidney donation. Since the mid-to late 1990s, advances in surgical techniques have drastically improved the cosmetic outcome following live kidney donation.

In addition, potential donors will be carefully examined to make sure they don't have any health problems that could worsen by donating a kidney. People who donate one of their kidneys are likely to live as long as a person with two healthy kidneys, assuming they survive the initial period which is more risky. Some studies have indicated a slight increase in the incidence of ESKD after donation among certain groups; in particular, black donors, younger donors, donors genetically related to their recipients, donors related to recipients with immunological causes of their renal failure, and donors with overweight. While kidney donors had higher diastolic blood pressure (the lowest number of readings, reflecting blood pressure between heartbeats) and a higher risk of end-stage renal disease, other important risk profiles were comparable to those of non-donors.

We assumed that many of the future risks that may affect life expectancy and ESRD such as cancer, obesity, smoking etc., were not influenced by the act of donating a kidney. We have various fact sheets on living kidney donations available if you prefer to download information to read offline. Living kidney donation was associated with an additional risk of ESRD particularly among males and blacks. Each donor's motivations can vary greatly and each donor has a unique experience as they go through the process of donating their kidney from the initial decision to be evaluated as a potential donor to years after the donation occurs.

Reviewing previous studies that involved more than 100,000 living kidney donors scientists found that donors appear to have a higher risk of worsening blood pressure and kidney function than non-donors. Reese said that living kidney donors can do a lot to minimize their short- and long-term health risks after donation.

Morris Bievenue
Morris Bievenue

Total internet geek. Hipster-friendly creator. Alcohol trailblazer. Certified food scholar. Alcohol expert. Extreme introvert.

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