Health Team

Study shows live kidney donation is safe

Posted March 9, 2010 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2010 6:18 p.m. EST

A new study has found that live kidney donation is very safe.

“The risk of dying from donating a kidney is three in 10,000, which is much lower than the risk of almost any other operation that you can undergo,” said Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins studied more than 80,000 live kidney donors nationwide over a 16-year period.

“If you match live donors to other healthy people in the population, there is no increased risk of dying down the road attributable to having only one kidney instead of two,” Segev said.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers found that African-Americans and men had a slightly higher risk of dying from donating a kidney. But, on average, the risk is still quite low.

Transplant centers now allow older patients and patients with other diseases to donate kidneys.

“We want to make sure this procedure remains safe for them and that they don't take any risks long-term by donating a kidney,” Segev said.

Doctors say kidney donors can still live a normal life with one kidney.

Researchers said their study data will help when counseling potential donors on the risks of kidney donation.

Kidney dialysis patient Robert Imes received a kidney from Judy Payne.

“It didn't seem to be that hard of a decision. I like to give to others,” Payne said. "You’re giving life to that other person by donating that kidney.”