Improving institutional fairness to live kidney donors: donor needs must be addressed by safeguarding donation risks and compensating donation costs

Transpl Int. 2007 Nov;20(11):940-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-2277.2007.00542.x. Epub 2007 Aug 17.


The number of kidney transplants from live donors is increasing worldwide, yet donor needs have not been satisfactorily addressed in either developed or developing countries. This paper argues that unmet donor needs are unfair to live kidney donors in two ways. First, when safeguards against the risks of donation are insufficient, live donation can impair the donor's health and thus his or her fair opportunities to access jobs and offices and to function as a free and equal citizen more generally. Secondly, when the financial costs of donation are not fully compensated, operational fairness (associated with the nephrectomy event) is compromised for the donor. The donor assumes the risks of a nontherapeutic intervention--for the good of the recipient and society--and should not have to incur costs for donating. Based on a systematic analysis of unmet donor needs in developed and developing countries, context-relative measures to improve institutional fairness to live kidney donors are delineated in this paper. The identified ways of safeguarding donation risks and compensating donation costs are not merely means to removing disincentives for donation and increasing donation rates. They are essential for preserving institutional fairness in the health care of the live kidney donor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Commerce
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation* / economics
  • Living Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
  • Travel