Public Release: 

US policy that gives priority to prior organ donors who need a transplant is working

Donors have shorter waits and receive higher quality organs

American Society of Nephrology

Highlights

  • Living organ donors who later need kidney transplants have much shorter waiting times, and they receive higher quality kidneys compared with similar people on the waiting list who were not organ donors.

    In 2010, a total of 16,900 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of those, only 6,278 were from living donors.

    Washington, DC (November 20, 2014) -- Prior organ donors who later need a kidney transplant experience brief waiting times and receive excellent quality kidneys, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings indicate that a US policy that gives priority to prior organ donors on the transplant waiting list is working.

    Live organ donors provide a remarkable gift to relieve another person of the burden of organ failure. While most live kidney donors enjoy excellent health after kidney donation, recent research has revealed that kidney donation is linked with an increased risk of developing kidney failure.

    Because of the gift of kidney donation, prior live organ donors receive priority on the kidney transplant waiting list. Peter Reese, MD MSCE (University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine), Vishnu Potluri, MD, MPH (Lankenau Medical Center), and their colleagues looked to see whether the current national kidney allocation policy was succeeding in its goal of minimizing waiting time to transplant for people who had once donated an organ. The researchers analyzed prior organ donors and matched non-donors who were wait-listed during the years 1996 to 2010.

    "The research reveals that, fortunately, these donors did not wait a long time for their kidney transplants and received high quality kidneys," said Dr. Reese. Prior organ donors had much shorter waiting time to receive a kidney transplant, and they received better quality kidneys compared with similar people on the waiting list who had not donated an organ. "This study shows that the policy is working: prior organ donors get rapid access to high quality organs. After transplant, their survival is excellent compared with similar people who were not organ donors," said Dr. Reese. He noted, however, that most prior organ donors needed dialysis before they received their transplant. Ideally, these prior donors would have received kidney transplants before they ever needed dialysis.

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    Study co-authors include Meera Harhay, MD, MSCE, Roy Bloom, MD, and F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE.

    Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

    The article, entitled ""Kidney Transplant Outcomes for Prior Living Organ Donors," will appear online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ on November 20, 2014.

    The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

    Founded in 1966, and with more than 15,000 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

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