Altruistic kidney donation to a stranger: psychosocial and functional outcomes at two US transplant centers

Transplantation. 2011 Apr 15;91(7):772-8. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e31820dd2bd.


Background: The number of living kidney donors with no preexisting relationship to the recipient has increased sharply. This study compared the psychosocial and functional outcomes of these altruistic donors to a stranger (ADs) with donors with a longstanding relationship with the recipient (traditional donors [TDs]).

Methods: ADs (n=39) and TDs (n=52), who were similar on age, sex, and year of donation, were recruited from two transplant programs in the United States. Participants completed validated measures of psychosocial and functional outcomes a median of 5 years after donation (range, 1-12 years).

Results: ADs and TDs did not differ significantly in the total number of donation motives. Both were motivated by a desire to help, the benefits to the recipient outweighing the risks to the donor, a sense of moral duty, and imagining oneself in the position of the recipient. Psychological benefits were endorsed equally by both types of donors, although TDs reported higher Quid Pro Quo scores relative to ADs (P=0.04). ADs and TDs did not differ significantly on any of the Short Form-36, Version 2 scales (P values ranged from 0.19 to 0.85). Few donors (3 ADs and 1 TD) regretted their donation decision.

Conclusion: Overall, findings indicate that carefully screened ADs experience psychosocial and functional outcomes comparable with those of TDs and should not be systematically excluded from the opportunity to donate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Altruism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Living Donors / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motivation