Since I’m day four of flu recovery, I’ll make this a quick one….
I’ve talked about the mortality (death) rate of living donors before on this blog, mostly to point out that nobody really knows the true statistics and secondarily, to criticize the transplant industry for constantly minimizing and skewing the numbers to their benefit.
In a recent “see-living-donation-is-safe” piece of propaganda from Johns Hopkins transplant surgeons, this little nugget is buried deep within the Comment section:
“…Reported surgical mortality of approximately 260 per 10,000 cases for nondonor nephrectomy.”
A quick rehash: the transplant industry continues to claim the official mortality/death rate of living donors is 3 per 10,000 or .03%. This (loosely) translates into 1-2 living donor deaths per year*.
3 -> 260. That’s a big honking difference.
Unfortunately this is quite similar to the accepted overall hepatectomy (liver removal) rate of 4% while the living liver donor mortality rate is cited as much lower. It begs the question: why the discrepancy? (or in more cyncial terms: why the lies?)
The transplant industry will claim that since living donors are healthy, their mortality and morbidity (complication) rates will be different (ie lower) than other non-donor nephrectomies or hepatectomies. Certainly, the great majority of folks undergoing either procedure are suffering from some health problem deemed serious enough to warrant surgery while we are not. However, since it is considered unethical to perform surgery or organ removal on an otherwise healthy individual (except in the case of living donation, go figure), there is no way of knowing if there is a statistical difference between how a ‘sick’ person’s body reacts to a surgical procedure in comparison to someone who is healthy. In the interest of true scientific validity, one simply can’t make claims one presupposes to be true without evidence.
But herein lies the great contradiction. If we accept the transplant industry’s theory that living donors are their own population and not comparable to those dreaded ‘sick’ folks, then why have they been so lacksidaisical in collecting data on us? Why have they used us for over fifty years but not bothered to even gather our social security numbers until 1994? For scientific purposes, if nothing else, wouldn’t they want to know everything there is to know about us in order to crow about their success as life-saving surgeons?
Yet they don’t. They’ve actually resisted repeated efforts to implement a national registry (even though they’re quite capable of keeping one for transplant recipients and cardiac patients), and they complain whenever data collection is mandated. Now we find out they know, conclusively, the mortality risk of undergoing a nephrectomy but purposely hide it in order to make living donation sound safer than it really is. Hmmm.
ETA: I’m reading University of Virginia Health System’s document, “living kidney donor agreement of understanding” and they have risk of death listed as 1 in 4000.
3/10,000 – .03%
260/10,000 = 2.6%
1/4000 = .025%
*that would be within a 90 day period following surgery. OPTN’s own data reveals 3.3 lilving donor deaths in the US every year within 6-months of surgery, and 4.4 within the first 12 months.
Segev DL, Muzaale AD, Caffo BS, Mehta SH, Singer AL, Taranto SE, McBride MA, & Montgomery RA (2010). Perioperative mortality and long-term survival following live kidney donation. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 303 (10), 959-66 PMID: 20215610