Informed Consent Living Donor Research Living Donor Risks Living Kidney Donor

Living Kidney Donation’s Medical Risks Are Unknown, says Segev

Dr. Dorry Segev is a transplant surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins with many living kidney donation publications on his resume. At the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Winter Symposium 2015, he gave a presentation entitled “Long-Term Living Donor Outcomes; When to Say No“.

If you have an extra 20  minutes, I suggest sitting down and watching the video, which contains Segev’s audio and powerpoint slides. He discusses the study he authored in 2010, which has been dissected ad nauseum, and a more recent study he co-authored with Muzzale, which stated that living kidney donors have an 8-11x increased risk of end-stage renal disease as compared to their well-matched, two-kidneyed counterparts.


If you’re only interested in the good parts (aka the reason behind the blog post headline), confine yourself to the first minute and a half, wherein Segev says:


“We do about 6,000 of these a year, and we still have actually very little understanding of the medical risks.”

“The old school was we just told people, ‘Your risk of ESRD after donation is no higher than that of the general population.’ I mean that’s completely stupid.  That’s like basically saying, ‘Compared to obese, hypertensive, poor health behavior America, you won’t be that bad.  We don’t know how bad you’ll be, but don’t worry, it’s no higher than the general population.’  But we use this as sort of like this reassurance to donors.  I mean it’s completely scientifically stupid.”

“To quote the past ASTS past president Goran Klintmalm …’This is bullshit.'”


Can we please, pause for a minute and soak this in?

For 60 years, the transplant industry has been telling the public that living donation is safe, minimal risk, nothing to be concerned about, no danger here, etc. etc. etc. to infinity and beyond. They’ve separated us from other populations who have kidneys removed, claiming that we’re “different” because we’re “healthier”, and that even though people with isolated renal tumors should only undergo partial nephrectomies to preserve their nephrons, living donors are apparently some unique species with super-special nephrons that don’t need saving…..

It’s just so – ridiculous.

And now we have the first admission that it’s total bullshit.


Unlike the grandstanding that took place when Segev published his “living donors don’t die earlier” study in 2010 (which didn’t really say that, by the way; that’s just what the *media* claimed it said), this profound revelation won’t even be a blip on the media’s radar screen. Because who, outside of the transplant industry, pays attention to what’s said at these stuffy, boring conferences? Hell, half of the transplant industry probably skips it too.  While I wish I could say they’ll stop lying to potential kidney donors (and the media, and the public) and admit that yes, there is risk to donating, and no, we don’t know what that is, I know better. After all, this is the same industry that ignored repeated letters from the FDA about not using the Hemolock clip, which resulted in multiple living kidney donors deaths and injuries. Too many of them, too often, refuse to let facts get in the way of their opinion.

I guess we’ll have to do it for them. Bookmark this post. Anytime you see an article, or a post on a forum/group that perpetuates the myths, just send them this.

And let me know what happens.


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