Living Donor Risks

Lose Nephrons, Risk Bones

Potential living kidney donors are generally woefully uneducated about the functions of the renal system. One of the lesser known functions of the kidneys is to regulate Vitamin D, which is important for calcium and bone strength. As this abstract states:

“Reports from preclinical models provide a mechanism for surgically induced nephron loss leading to vitamin D and calcium metabolism dysregulation, resulting in osteoporosis”


They also state:

” Emerging retrospective data also suggest that nephron preservation in setting of surgical treatment of renal malignancy may reduce risk of chronic kidney disease and sequelae, including osteoporosis and fractures. ”

In other words, whenever possible, we should only remove as little of a kidney as possible to maintain not only renal function but reduce the risk of bone loss and disease.


If you’ve got the time. look around at the transplant industry generated websites, articles and pamphlets. Do any of them mention calcium, Vitamin D, bone loss, osteoporosis or otherwise?




Derweesh, I. (2014). Bone health and chronic kidney disease Current Opinion in Urology DOI: 10.1097/MOU.0000000000000103

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