Ethical Considerations Informed Consent Living Donor Research Living Kidney Donor

Pushing the Living Kidney Donor Agenda

It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of medical practitioners specializing in chronic kidney disease prefer living kidney donor transplants as a treatment for their patients. But this is the second time in recent history I’ve run across a study that actively propagandizes to would-recipients *and their social network* about the practice.

It’s not particularly new that physicians consciously or unconsciously encourage their patients in the treatment direction they (the doctors) prefer, but living donation is unique in that another person is permanently harmed in the process.


The patients in question (aka, those with end-stage renal disease) were assigned to the study based on their inability to find a living donor, cementing the study’s pro-living donation purpose immediately.

Their stated goal, “to support well-informed decision making among patients and their social network” translates into “How many people can we persuade to donate a kidney to our patients, the would-be recipients?”. 

Their outcome measures are further confirm this one-sided attitude:


The invitees [ie. the would-be recipients’ social network] showed pre–post increases in knowledge (p<0.001), attitude toward discussing renal replacement therapies (p=0.020), attitude toward donating a kidney (p=0.023) and willingness to donate a kidney (p=0.039) and a decrease in risk perception (p=0.003). Finally, there were significantly more inquiries (29/39 vs. 13/41, p<0.001), evaluations (25/39 vs. 7/41, p<0.001) and actual LDKTs (17/39 vs. 4/41, p=0.003) in the experimental group compared with the control group. 


Unfortunately I’m unable to procure the entire study ($$) but I’d certainly like to see what “information” the authors dispensed to the invitees. Because I’m sure it was much closer to Ibrahim and Segev‘s dreck than it was Mjoen‘s analysis of cardiovascular and renal disease in LKDs.


I’m aware the subject line invokes the image of gay marriage foes shrieking about the “gay agenda”. And while the two situations seem very different, the logic is the same: both gay marriage foes and the transplant industry want to continue to deny that certain groups of people (gays and living donors) the right to the same protections and liberties afforded everyone else (straights and recipients). Cloaking this prejudice under the heading of “education” doesn’t make it any less wrong and damaging than gay-conversion therapy.




Ismail SY, Luchtenburg AE, Timman R, Zuidema WC, Boonstra C, Weimar W, Busschbach JJ, & Massey EK (2014). Home-Based Family Intervention Increases Knowledge, Communication and Living Donation Rates: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons PMID: 24935081

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