Transplants Can Be Essential For People With Chronic Kidney Disease. But What Are The Consequences For Donors?

According to a story from ABC News, medical researchers are beginning to monitor the long term health of people that have donated one of their kidneys. A kidney transplant can be necessary in order to save the lives of people with chronic kidney disease. This is a long term disease in which kidney function progressively worsens and eventually leads to kidney failure. For many patients, a donated kidney can be a life saver. But little has been done to observe the potential impacts for people who were willing to be donors.

Doctors say that the procedure of kidney removal rarely involves serious complications for the donor, but impacts on long term health are not well understood. A recent report from a British study indicated the donors were more vulnerable to develop kidney failure later in life. Women donors were also at a greater risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Although the risk of problems is generally considered fairly low, further study would help inform donors about the possible consequences. This would be of particular value for younger donors; after all, their remaining kidney has to remain functioning alone for longer. Many studies have tracked donors for a maximum of fifteen years, but that time span doesn’t mean a whole lot for donors in their twenties or thirties. In order to resolve this problem, ten transplant centers are gearing up for a long-term monitoring program that will keep tabs on donors’ health for the remainder of their lives as opposed to just several years. Eventually, this program will hopefully expand to include all transplant centers in the country.
Vicky Young, now aged sixty-four, was a kidney donor. She donated her kidney about fourteen years ago, but has developed chronic kidney disease herself, which is the very disease that transplants are often used for. She also developed nerve damage that causes her chronic pain. Although she does not regret her decision to donate, Vicky has been part of the push for more discussion of risks with donors. Kidney donation is vital for many people with chronic kidney disease, and deciding to donate takes a lot of courage, so donors should know as much as possible about the possible health impacts.

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