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63.6% of Living Kidney Donors Are Overweight

An analysis of the OPTN/UNOS database from 1999-2011 reveals that 63.6% of all living kidney donors were either overweight* or obese.

(emphasis mine):

“Overweight and mildly obese kidney donors have increased through time by 12% and 20% every 5 years, respectively “


Obesity is associated with numerous health risks, including Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension. According to USRDS, 44% of kidney failure is due to diabetes and another 26% is because of high blood pressure.


“Having a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 has been associated with slightly longer operative times and overall more peri-opera­tive complications, such as wound complications”


If obesity is such a problem, especially in regards to kidney function and health, wouldn’t OPTN have some sort of policy on the matter? (emphasis mine again)


According to OPTN guidelines, having a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 is considered a relative contraindication to be a living kidney donor. Despite this, transplant centers across the United States use different criteria in determining donor exclusion based on BMI. Based on a 2007 United States Transplant Center Survey, twenty percent of the transplant centers that were surveyed excluded those with BMI greater than 40 kg/m2, fifty two percent of United States kidney transplant centers excluded donors with BMI greater than 35 kg/m2, ten percent of programs excluded those with BMI over 30 kg/m2, twelve percent had no policy for exclusion, and six percent excluded based on BMI if they had other cardiovascular risks. ”


In short, only 60% of U.S. transplant centers follow or exceed OPTN policy.

40% of U.S. transplant centers accept higher at-risk living kidney donors than OPTN policy dictates.


There’s no point in having a policy if 40% of members won’t follow it. Especially if the governing organization will do nothing to enforce it. The whole thing is nothing more than theater, engineered to make the public *believe* transplant centers care about the health and well-being of kidney donors.

Unfortunately, it’s theater that’s already put over 30,000 people at risk.



*Overweight was defined as a BMI of 25 or higher.

Sachdeva, M. (2015). Weight trends in United States living kidney donors: Analysis of the UNOS database World Journal of Transplantation, 5 (3) DOI: 10.5500/wjt.v5.i3.137

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