Background: Live donor kidney transplantation (LDKT), although far from risk free, is a reasonably safe procedure for medically suitable donors. We hypothesized that both potential recipients and donors have identifiable and modifiable factors that contribute to the likelihood of LDKT. The objectives of this study were to describe and quantify these factors using anonymous, confidential questionnaires.
Methods: Specifically designed questionnaires addressing personal characteristics, knowledge, and beliefs about LDKT were mailed to 127 previous donors and 387 relatives of patients newly listed on the cadaver transplant wait-list. Ninety-eight (77%) and 243 (63%) responses were returned by donors and nondonors, respectively.
Results: There were significant differences between groups in gender, ethnicity, hours worked per week, and annual income. Significant differences were seen in both knowledge and beliefs about LDKT. Most donors indicated they made their decisions without lengthy deliberation or research about kidney donation. Only 20% of nondonors feel they are well informed about LDKT.
Conclusion: It is likely possible to improve knowledge about LDKT among friends and relations of patients with renal failure, but it is not certain that this will lead to increased donation because most donors don't appear to deliberate or research organ donation before making a commitment to donate. Strategies to educate potential donors should initially focus on the recipient.