Advocacy Living Donor Research Living Donor Risks Living Kidney Donor

Hey Fatties, Lose Weight So We Can Have Your Kidney Already!

Saw this headline this morning, the official press release from North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System:

“Researchers discover that obesity hinders kidney donation” (here)


…of 104 potential living kidney donors, 23 (22 percent) donors were classified as morbidly obese, only three (13 percent) of whom were able to successfully lose weight and donate their kidney…

Morbidly obese patients are generally excluded as [living] organ donors given their increased risk for complications during operation and the development of chronic conditions linked to obesity (i.e., type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.).


Sounds reasonable, enough. But then…

A quote from one of the researchers, Mala Sachdeva, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine and researcher at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (emphasis mine):

“As a next step, we must conduct larger studies that assess how vast a problem this is on a national level and determine how best to expand our living donor pool for kidney transplantation…” 


Did she just say that obesity is a problem not because of correlated health risks (and public health consequences) but because it prevents her and her compatriots from harvesting kidneys?


“Due to kidney shortages, there must be tangible efforts made to increase the donor pool. Perhaps potential donors who are excluded from donation due to their high BMI should participate in more stringent weight loss programs, check in much more regularly at their transplant center for follow ups, and even join social support groups as a means of motivation. Something needs to be done to increase the number of live donors…


Yeah, that’s exactly what she said.


I browse for different coverage of the same study, and find this:

“Obesity May Contribute to Organ Shortage” (here)


The first line:

The pool of potential living kidney donors may be shrinking because of the national obesity “epidemic,” researchers said here.


Less offensive, but pretty much the same thing.


This time we’re treated to a quote from the President of the National Kidney Foundation, the same organization who has been trying to convince the world their sole priority isn’t just getting more kidneys for transplants, but that they’re concerned about living kidney donors’ well-being too:

“As the kidney transplant waiting list grows, there is a great need for living donors,” [Lynda] Szczech said in the statement. “As a community, we need to identify ways to overcome this barrier {obesity] so that we can increase our donor pool and end the wait for transplant.”


So let’s say these folks lose enough weight to pony up a kidney. 80% will gain it back within 2 years. 2/3 gain back more within 4/5 years then they initially lost*.

And you know what’s worse than a morbidly obese potential kidney donor? A morbidly obese person with compromised kidney function and no renal reserve.

Are Sachdeva and Szczech (and their ilk) willing to monitor these kidney donors for the rest of their lives? Will they commit their resources to ensuring the donors maintain their weight, and their health, so they don’t die an early death due to diabetes, heart disease or kidney failure?

Considering the 60 year history of living donor neglect in the US, it’s safe to say probably not.


I’ve often wondered if members of the transplant industry realize how asinine they sound when they make statements like this. Like the folks who’ve spent their entire (indeterminately long) lives in the back hills of some god-forsaken state, and who consequently spew racial and ethnic slurs like the civil rights movement never happened, are these doctors so isolated from the consequences of their actions, so privileged, that they see nothing wrong with reducing the public to nothing more than walking kidney incubators?

Well – when the sentiments are included in widely distributed press releases, I’d say unfortunately so.


*google for source material



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