Donating a kidney just got even safer. New requirements — in effect as of
Feb. 1, 2013 — further protect people who are willing to be living kidney
Concerns about what happens to donors after donating their kidneys prompted
the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), which manages the transplant
system, to establish new mandatory guidelines for all U.S. hospitals.
Flechner, MD, of Cleveland
Clinic’s Kidney Transplant Program, chaired a work group representing the
major American transplant societies that made recommendations to UNOS. He says
while kidney donation surgery itself is safe — and kidneys are by far the most
commonly transplanted organs — longer-term effects on donors haven’t been
documented in many instances.
Dr. Flechner says the new policies will help to protect and reassure kidney
donors right from the beginning of the donation process.
If you’re thinking of donating a kidney for whatever reason, you should know
the basics of what hospitals are required to do. The three major requirements
1. Informed consent of living kidney donors
A hospital or transplantation center has to completely educate you of all
aspects of the donation process, including the risks and benefits and your own
function and health, as well as possible effects on your finances, emotions and
2. Medical and psychological evaluation of living donors
To be sure you are physically and mentally ready to be a donor, you will
undergo standardized medical and psychological evaluations performed by doctors
or surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists or clinical social workers.
3. Follow-up with donors for a minimum of two years
Hospitals must submit complete follow-up data concerning your health at six
months, one year and two years from the date of your donation.
Dr. Flechner says the new requirements aren’t designed to increase the
number of much-needed kidney donors, but they may help potential donors feel
safer about the surgery and impact of donation on their health.
“We’ll find out as the guidelines are implemented,” says Dr. Flechner.
“They should help in donor awareness and support their reasons for donating a