The Experience of Living Kidney Donors
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This article describes the experiences, feelings, and ideas of living kidney donors. Using a phenomenological, qualitative research approach, the authors interviewed 12 purposefully selected living kidney donors (eight men and four women), who were between four and 29 years since donation. Interviews were audiotaped, and transcribed verbatim, and the analysis of the data was both iterative and interpretive. Three key themes emerged. The first was how witnessing their loved ones' experience of illness and the threat of losing the recipient influenced the participants' decision to donate. The second focused on intrapersonal (philosophy of life) and interpersonal factors (comprehensive social support networks) that influenced the decision to be tested as a potential donor and the actual process of donation. The third was the impact of giving the gift of life, which was emotional and life changing. This article provides a rich description of the experiences of living kidney donors, revealing the multiple factors influencing the decision to donate, and provides insight on how social workers and other health care professionals need to identify and address the psychosocial needs of living kidney donors and their families from the process of decision making through after donation.
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