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Study: For Kidney Donors, Risks of Altruism Are Decreasing

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the demand for kidney donors far outpaces supply, living donors – that is, those who choose to donate one of their two kidneys out of altruism – occupy a key role. In fact, just over one-third of all kidney transplants in the U.S. currently come from living donors. But what are the short- and long-term medical effects of this gift? In the years since 1998, there have been fewer complications following donation, and length of hospital stay has decreased, report researchers in a new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

While 10.1 percent of donors suffered complications after a transplant procedure in 1998, the current percentage of donors with complications is down to 7.6 percent. The average length of stay is down too, from 3.7 to 2.5 days. These rates are similar to those faced by patients getting their appendix or gallbladders taken out.

At the same time, the profile of the person who donates has shifted slightly to encompass those with a higher rate of medical problems – specifically depression, high blood pressure and obesity. Taken together, researchers say, their findings underscore the need to continue to monitor who donates and how they fare after the procedure as a safeguard for the donor’s health along with the recipient’s.

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