Background: This is the first large-scale interview study carried out in patients and potential donors who seem unwilling or unable to pursue living kidney donation. By investigating these groups, we explored whether further expansion of the living kidney donation program is feasible.
Methods: We interviewed 91 patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant who did not pursue living kidney donation and their potential donors (n=53). We also included a comparison group. All respondents underwent an in-depth interview by a psychologist about topics that could influence their willingness to pursue living kidney donation.
Results: A total of 78% of the patients on the waiting list were willing to accept the offer of a living donor. The main reason for not pursuing living kidney donation was reluctance to discuss the issue with the potential donors. This was also found in the comparison group. Both groups indicated that if there was no donor offer, they tended to interpret this as a refusal to donate. This interpretation not always holds: more than one third (19 of 53) of the potential donors were open to consider themselves as a potential donor. On the other hand, a comparably sized group of potential donors (21 of 53) was reluctant about donation. The main reason for donor reluctance was fear for their health after donation.
Conclusion: The majority of patients on the waiting list are willing to accept a living kidney donor, but adopt an awaiting attitude towards their potential donors. Offering those patients professional assistance should be considered.