Over Half US Population Not Healthy Enough To Donate A Kidney

Anthony Bleyer, Jr.  Wake Forest University Class of 2015, Economics  President, Club Sports Union  Senior Captain, Wake Forest Men's Ultimate MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anthony Bleyer, Jr. 
Wake Forest University Class of 2015, Economics
President, Club Sports Union
Senior Captain, Wake Forest Men’s Ultimate

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are over 100,000 individuals waiting for a kidney transplant, but each year only approximately 6,000 individuals have living donors who donate them a kidney; the rest of the individuals must remain on dialysis until they receive a kidney from an individual who has died and is a kidney donor.  A major limiting factor for kidney donation is that many individuals are not healthy enough to donate a kidney because they have  excessive obesity, diabetes mellitus, blood pressure that is too high, or they have other health conditions.  While it was known that obesity, hypertension, and other health conditions are contraindications to kidney transplant, there was no data about what percentage of the US population would be able to donate a kidney.  To study this, we (a team of kidney doctors and researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey. This study is a population-based sample that is representative of the US population.

Based on data from this study, we determined that 55.2% of the U.S. population would not have met eligibility criteria for kidney donation, often due to preventable health conditions.  19.2% of the population would have been unable to donate due to hypertension, 15% due to obesity, 11.6% due to excessive alcohol intake, and 11.5% due to diabetes.  60.1% of individuals with an adjusted family household income (AFHI) <$35,000 did not meet eligibility criteria vs. 49.3% for an AFHI > $100,000.   If one considers non-US citizenship and a family income below the poverty threshold as exclusion criteria, 68.5% of the US population would be unable to donate.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Many individuals are unable to donate a kidney because of preventable health conditions.  As obesity increases in our population, less individuals will be able to donate kidneys.

Future research should concentrate on how we can help people who want to donate a kidney but cannot afford to miss work.  Approximately 35% of the potential living donor population (who do not have medical obstacles to donating) have an adjusted family household income <$35,000.  These individuals often live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to miss work for several weeks to donate a kidney.


ASN Kidney Week 2014 abstract

A Population-Based Based Study of the U.S. Population Shows the Majority of Persons Cannot Donate due to Preventable Diseases and Socio-Economic Conditions
Abstract FR-OR089

Last Updated on November 15, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD