1. Lyttle, Bethany


New results may allay possible donors' and families' fears.


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Long-term survival rates for live kidney donors appear to be similar to those for healthy nondonor counterparts, according to a cohort study in the United States that examined 15 years of outcomes among more than 80,000 live kidney donors. The need for careful selection among higher-risk groups was acknowledged-the risk of death is higher in men and in all black donors, for instance-as was the need for discussion of those risks with possible donors, but the investigators concluded that their study was large enough to show that current practices are "reasonable and safe," as well as a valid tool for addressing "the profound shortage in deceased donor organs."

Figure. Laparoscopic... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Laparoscopic surgery is performed in an operating theater during a kidney transplant operation. Photo by Frances Roberts/Alamy.

The results, published in March, confirmed what nurses who work with living transplant donors have observed for years. "Carefully selected donors go on to live healthy lives, often with an elevated sense of well-being," says Patricia McDonough, who has been the coordinator of live-donor transplantation for the kidney and liver program at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, for more than 15 years. Given that the waiting time for kidneys is five to seven years and that there are approximately 85,000 names on the U.S. waiting list, advocates of live-donor kidney transplantation hope that the published results will dispel fear and offset misconceptions in potential donors and their families.


Those who have chosen to donate their kidneys, like Jim Melwert, a 35-year-old Pennsylvania journalist who donated his right kidney in 2006, understand that this is crucial. "Not only was it a revelation to learn that I wouldn't have to make big changes to my lifestyle after the procedure, it was something my [loved ones] really needed to hear," he said. "I was given a lot of information about what to expect, and I made an extremely informed decision. But if I had to make one suggestion for nurses, it would be to provide potential living donors with talking points for their families and friends. I think it would have helped a lot to have gone home and explained things better to those who were worried about my decision."-Bethany Lyttle


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