Background: Deceased donor kidney allocation schemes are designed to balance optimal utility with equity of access. The aim of this single-center survey is to seek patient opinion about the relative importance of factors used to determine the optimal transplant recipient in kidney allocation schemes.
Methods: In each of 8 scenarios, participants were invited to select which 1 of 2 hypothetical patients should receive a kidney.
Results: Two hundred thirty-two of 295 invited patients (78.6%) completed the questionnaire: 104 of 153 invited hemodialysis patients (68.0%) and 128 of 142 invited patients with functioning transplants (90.1%). Only 6.0% of participants agreed with current UK Transplant (UKT) and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) allocation to a patient not yet on dialysis therapy who had been on the transplant waiting list longer than a patient already on dialysis therapy. Only 24.6% of participants agreed with the UKT and UNOS schemes that the transplant survival advantage associated with HLA matching warranted allocation of a kidney to a patient who had been waiting 2 years in preference to a patient waiting 7 years. Participants also were opposed to the use of recipient age and balance of exchange agreements (that reward centers with high rates of organ retrieval). The majority agreed with UKT and UNOS that recipient sex should not be used to allocate kidneys and allocation should favor recipients who have waited longer.
Conclusion: Patients disagreed with several aspects of current allocation systems. Analysis of patient opinion should be taken into consideration when attempting to optimize the use of this scarce health resource.