Giving Your Kidney: Personal Experiences of Kidney Donors

The Missouri Kidney Program and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri conducted a study interviewing 220 kidney donors about their donation experiences. The results of the study are reported in the brochure, "Giving Your Kidney, published by the Missouri Kidney Program in 1997.

 Donors who donated their kidneys between 1973 and 1995 were asked questions about their donation experience including what concerns they had before donating, if they felt pressure from family, friends or the transplant staff to donate and specific questions about their recovery process after donation. Donors were also asked if they would make the same decision today.

Major Study Findings:

Would donors make the same decision to donate today?

97% of all kidney donors interviewed reported that they would make the same decision to donate today.

Did donors feel pressured to donate?

86% of donors reported that they experienced no pressure to donate from friends and family, 6% felt pressure to donate and 8% were discouraged from donating. 91% felt no pressure from the hospital and transplant staff to donate.

What concerns did the donors have before donation?

51% of donors were concerned before donation that the recipient would die if they didn't donate. 33% were concerned before donation that they would have kidney problems later. 28% of donors were initially concerned that donation would be a financial hardship to their family.

Afterwards, only 7% reported any negative changes in health. In addition, 85% reported that donation presented no financial hardship to their family.

How long did the recovery process take for the donor?

80% of donors reported that they were hospitalized for one week or less and 18% were hospitalized for 8-14 days. 90% of the donors returned to their regular activities within 4 to 6 weeks of the donation.

Were there any perceived benefits of donating for donors?

38% of donors indicated an increase in their own life satisfaction after donating. Many donors attributed this increase in life satisfaction to the rewards of contributing life to another person. 59% of donors reported unchanged life satisfaction, while 2% reported a negative change in life satisfaction.

Overall, what did donors think about the experience of donation?

81% of donors reported positive attitudes about donation after their donation experience. 90% reported greater knowledge about donation.

The study information provided here is not comprehensive. The brochure also contains basic information about the process of kidney donation, specifics about the testing and matching of prospective donors, health insurance issues and information about other resources for people interested in learning more about kidney donation. This brochure is available for purchase ($.50/brochure for English & $.50/brochure for Spanish) by contacting Tammy Turner via e-mail  or at the phone numbers below: 

Missouri Kidney Program
AP Green Building - Suite 111
Columbia, MO 65211

  Phone: (573) 882-2506
Toll Free: (800) 733-7345
      Fax: (573) 882-0167