This study from 2004, entitled “Psychological effects of living related kidney transplantation – risks and chances“, looked at 31 donor-recipient pairs. It concludes:
A. Living kidney donor transplantation is stressful for recipients, donors *and* their families,
B. The recipient’s post-transplant health affects the donor’s psychological well-being.
[Note: Yet another reason to focus on the quality of the transplant. Unfortunately OPTN’s Board of Directors has decided it wants to focus on quantity instead, in lieu of quality or patient and donor safety. See: January 2015 ACOT meeting materials]
C. It’s not advisable to go to transplant if the recipient-donor relationship is not a good one.
D. Living donors need support both before and after the transplant.
Reminder: The living donor psychosocial evaluation is a one-time event, and the purpose is to 1.look for signs of of payment and 2. rule out any major addiction or psychological issues requiring treatment prior to transplant. It is *not* to deal with any of the above noted points.
Transplants centers are not required to, nor do they, provide structured aftercare or support services for their living donors. The past and current living donor follow-up forms do not capture any information on a living donor’s mental health or well-being.
I’m always glad to discover a paper that adds knowledge to the living donor experience, but it saddens me to know that, despite these results, nothing has improved in living donor support care since its publication in 2004.
Heck, G., Schweitzer, J., & Seidel-Wiesel, M. (2004). Psychological effects of living related kidney transplantation – risks and chances Clinical Transplantation, 18 (6), 716-721 DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2004.00285.x