Sunday, March 28, 2010

Research Highlights: Equivalent Long-Term Mortality in Live Kidney Donors Compared to Control Group

Equivalent Long-Term Mortality in Live Kidney Donors Compared to Control Group
By: Caroline Melhado

A recent study assessing the long-term mortality of live kidney donors was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Results, examining a cohort drawn from the National Registry of 80,347 live kidney donors, showed that live donors had equal mortality rates to a matched group over 15 years. While post-surgical deaths were slightly higher for the group, the long-term death rates were equal between a control group and the live-donor cohort.

While historically researchers have used population-based samples to compare long-term death rates of live-donors, donors are carefully selected based on health criteria; therefore a control population should also meet these same criteria. Using the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) a group of 9,364 individuals were used to serve as the controls, and an equivalent number was chosen from the live-donor national registry.

In the 90 days following surgery there were 25 deaths in the live-donor population, resulting in a 3.1 per 10,000 donor surgical mortality rate. Men, donors with hypertension and black donors died significantly more than others during post-surgical mortality. While this death rate was higher than the control group, the long-term death rate was equal, even after stratifying for sex, age and race. Even obese donors had equal mortality rates.

These results give promising counsel to doctors describing the long-term risks to potential kidney donors. While surgical risk is still serious, the actual risk for most healthy individuals is little, especially in the long run.

JAMA. 2010;303(10):959-966.
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