Introduction: Live donor kidney transplantation (LDKT) is both medically and economically superior to cadaver kidney transplantation in the treatment of patients with chronic renal failure. Unfortunately, fewer than 50% of patients on the transplant waiting list have a relative or friend who contacts the transplant program about possible donation. We hypothesized that both the potential recipient and potential donor have identifiable and modifiable characteristics that contribute to the likelihood of a live donor transplant.
Materials and methods: Specifically-designed and validated questionnaires addressing personal characteristics, knowledge and beliefs about LDKT were mailed to patients who had previously received a LDKT (N = 163) and patients on the cadaver transplant waiting list (N = 251). Response rates were 81% and 67% respectively.
Results: There were significant differences between groups in age, ethnicity, marital status, hours worked per week, annual income, and time on the waiting list. Significant differences were found between groups in both knowledge and beliefs about live donor kidney transplantation. All wait-list patients could identify at least one family member (mean = 7 potential donors per wait-list patient) who might serve as a live kidney donor but less than 13% of these potential donors have actually undergone an evaluation.
Conclusions: In British Columbia, an enormous pool of potential live kidney donors exists for patients who are currently waiting for a cadaver kidney transplant. Educational strategies designed for wait-list patients may correct knowledge deficits and alter unfavorable beliefs about LDKT which, in turn, may increase their willingness to seek and accept an offer of live kidney donation.