Mayo Clinic study finds obese kidney donors face few increased risks

02/17/05

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers have found that obese individuals in otherwise good health who donated a kidney had outcomes similar to their non-obese counterparts. The study is published in the March issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

In a retrospective study of more than 500 patients, at an average of eleven months after kidney donation, Mayo doctors found obese donors did not experience more problems than non-obese donors. However, prior to donation, obese patients were at greater risk for cardiovascular disease based on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, compared to normal weight donors. Despite the findings, the study emphasizes the importance of following obese patients for a longer time before drawing any long-term conclusions.

Historically living kidney donation has been restricted to a select donor group in very good health. However, with national trends indicating an increased obese population in the United States, the number of obese individuals offering to donate a kidney to a friend or loved one is rising. Recognizing this trend, Mayo physicians reviewed the extensive living donor experience at Mayo to examine outcomes in obese donors.

"We know that obesity is rising in our population, and while that is not a good trend, we need to see if obesity poses a specific risk for kidney donors," says Sandra Taler, M.D., a Mayo Clinic kidney specialist and a co-author of the study. "We found that short-term outcomes for obese donors did not differ significantly from outcomes experienced by donors of normal weight. Additional follow-up is definitely needed to see if there are long-term differences, but these initial findings are encouraging."

As the largest living donor organ transplant program in the United States, Mayo Clinic encourages live organ donations. Because a typical wait for a kidney from a deceased donor can range from three to five years, many people will not survive long enough on dialysis to reach transplantation.

More than 300,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure requiring dialysis to live. Life expectancies increase from about four years with dialysis, to 15 years with a kidney transplant. Despite the superior survival and better quality of life with a transplant, only about 5 percent of dialysis patients will receive a transplant in the United States, due to a limited supply of donor organs.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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