Background and objectives
Living kidney donor candidates accept a range of risks and benefits when they decide to proceed with nephrectomy. Informed consent around this decision assumes they receive reliable data about outcomes they regard as critical to their decision making. We identified the outcomes most important to living kidney donors and described the reasons for their choices.
Design, setting, participants, & measurements
Previous donors were purposively sampled from three transplant units in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and Canada (Vancouver). In focus groups using the nominal group technique, participants identified outcomes of donation, ranked them in order of importance, and discussed the reasons for their preferences. An importance score was calculated for each outcome. Qualitative data were analyzed thematically.
Across 14 groups, 123 donors aged 27–78 years identified 35 outcomes. Across all participants, the ten highest ranked outcomes were kidney function (importance=0.40, scale 0–1), time to recovery (0.27), surgical complications (0.24), effect on family (0.22), donor-recipient relationship (0.21), life satisfaction (0.18), lifestyle restrictions (0.18), kidney failure (0.14), mortality (0.13), and acute pain/discomfort (0.12). Kidney function and kidney failure were more important to Canadian participants, compared with Australian donors. The themes identified included worthwhile sacrifice, insignificance of risks and harms, confidence and empowerment, unfulfilled expectations, and heightened susceptibility.
Living kidney donors prioritized a range of outcomes, with the most important being kidney health and the surgical, lifestyle, functional, and psychosocial effects of donation. Donors also valued improvements to their family life and donor-recipient relationship. There were clear regional differences in the rankings.