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Transplantation. 2015 Jan;99(1):232-5. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000000281.

Seriously ill patients as living unspecified kidney donors: rationale and justification.

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1 Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 2 Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 3 Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 4 Department of Surgery, division of Transplant Surgery, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



Between 2000 and December 2013, 106 live donor nephrectomies from anonymous living-donors were performed at the Erasmus MC Rotterdam; five of the donors (5.4%) had a life-threatening disease. The aim of the present report is to give the rational and justification for this procedure.


All five donors underwent the national standard living-donor screening procedure. Additionally, motivation to donate and psychologic stability were assessed by a psychologist using in-depth interview techniques and a psychologic complaints questionnaire. Post-donor nephrectomy follow-up consisted of standard questionnaires and clinical check-ups.


One patient had cerebral and caudal ependymomas, one had severe and progressive emphysema, two had Huntington's disease and one had a grade 2 oligodendroglioma. The psychologic screening revealed genuine motivation, adequate risk perception, and normal sense of reality. No contraindications for donation were found. The five donor nephrectomies made nine kidney transplantations possible. All donors were satisfied with the donation procedure. Three donors died during follow-up (0.6-4.9 years) as a result of their disease.


In the absence of apparent additional health risks, medical, and psychologic contraindications, we consider it ethically justified to accept an offer from a cognitively competent patient with a life-threatening disease in view of their self-reported satisfaction during follow-up. Although based on a limited number of patients, we conclude that a stricter psychologic screening for seriously ill donors compared to healthy unspecified anonymous donors to unspecified patients is not necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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