Living kidney donation: outcomes, ethics, and uncertainty

Lancet. 2015 May 16;385(9981):2003-13. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62484-3.


Since the first living-donor kidney transplantation in 1954, more than half a million living kidney donations have occurred and research has advanced knowledge about long-term donor outcomes. Donors in developed countries have a similar life expectancy and quality of life as healthy non-donors. Living kidney donation is associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, although this outcome is uncommon (<0·5% increase in incidence at 15 years). Kidney donation seems to elevate the risks of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Many donors incur financial expenses due to factors such as lost wages, need for sick days, and travel expenses. Yet, most donors have no regrets about donation. Living kidney donation is practised ethically when informed consent incorporates information about risks, uncertainty about outcomes is acknowledged when it exists, and a donor's risks are proportional to benefits for the donor and recipient. Future research should determine whether outcomes are similar for donors from developing countries and donors with pre-existing conditions such as obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blacks / ethnology
  • Blood Group Incompatibility
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Accessibility / ethics
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Kidney Transplantation / ethics*
  • Kidney Transplantation / trends
  • Life Expectancy
  • Living Donors / ethics*
  • Living Donors / supply & distribution
  • Motivation
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / ethnology
  • Patient Selection
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome