Emotional and financial experiences of kidney donors over the past 50 years: The RELIVE study

Cheryl L. Jacobs, Cynthia R. Gross, Emily E. Messersmith, Barry A. Hong, Brenda W. Gillespie, Peg Hill-Callahan, Sandra J. Taler, Sheila G. Jowsey, Tim J. Beebe, Arthur J. Matas, Jonah Odim, Hassan N. Ibrahimon, RELIVE Study Group

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64 Scopus citations


Background and objectives Most kidney donors view their experience positively, but some may experience psychosocial and financial burdens. We hypothesized that certain donor characteristics, poor outcome of the recipient, negative perceptions of care, and lack of support may be associated with poor psychosocial outcomes for donors. Design, setting, participants, & measurements The Renal and Lung Living Donors Evaluation Study (RELIVE) examined long-term medical and psychosocial outcomes for kidney donors (at three U.S. transplant centers) who donated between 1963 and 2005. Standardized questionnaires evaluated donor perspectives, recovery time, social support, motivation, financial impact, insurability after donation, and current psychological status. Questionnaires were mailed to 6909 donors. Results Questionnaires were returned by 2455 donors, who had donated 17610 years earlier (range, 5-48 years), a response rate of 36%. Most (95%) rated their overall donation experience as good to excellent. Rating the overall donor experience more negatively was associated with donor complications, psychological difficulties, recipient graft failure, and longer time since donation. Nine percent (n=231) reported one or more of the following poor psychosocial outcomes: fair or poor overall donor experience, financial burden, regret or discomfort with decision to donate, or psychological difficulties since donation. Recipient graft failure was the only predictor for reporting one or more of these poor psychosocial outcomes (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.33 to 2.34). Donors with lower educational attainment experienced greater financial burden. One of five employed donors took unpaid leave; 2% reported health and life insurability concerns. Conclusions Although the majority of donors viewed their overall donation experience positively, almost 1 in 10 donors reported at least one negative consequence related to donation. Recipient graft failure was associated with poor psychosocial outcome, defined as one or more of these negative consequences. Some donors were financially disadvantaged, and some experienced insurance difficulties. Interventions to avoid negative psychosocial and financial consequences are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2221-2231
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 7 2015

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© 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.


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