Long-term follow-up of living kidney donors: quality of life after donation

Transplantation. 1999 Mar 15;67(5):717-21. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199903150-00013.


The University of Minnesota has been a strong advocate of living donor kidney transplants. The benefits for living donor recipients have been well documented. The relative low risk of physical complications during donation has also been well documented. Less well understood is the psychosocial risk to donors. Most published reports have indicated an improved sense of well-being and a boost in self-esteem for living kidney donors. However, there have been some reports of depression and disrupted family relationships after donation, even suicide after a recipient's death. To determine the quality of life of our donors, we sent a questionnaire to 979 who had donated a kidney between August 1, 1984, and December 31, 1996. Of the 60% who responded, the vast majority had an excellent quality of life. As a group, they scored higher than the national norm on the SF-36, a standardized quality of life health questionnaire. However, 4% were dissatisfied and regretted the decision to donate. Further, 4% found the experience extremely stressful and 8% very stressful. We used multivariate analysis to identify risk factors for this poor psychosocial outcome and found that relatives other than first degree (odds ratio=3.5, P=0.06) and donors whose recipient died within 1 year of transplant (odds ratio=3.3, P=0.014) were more likely to say they would not donate again if it were possible. Further, donors who had perioperative complications (odds ratio=3.5, P=0.007) and female donors (odds ratio=1.8, P=0.1) were more likely to find the overall experience more stressful. Overall, the results of this study are overwhelmingly positive and have encouraged us to continue living donor kidney transplants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Living Donors* / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires