Direct and Indirect Costs Following Living Kidney Donation: Findings From the KDOC Study

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Some living kidney donors (LKDs) incur costs associated with donation, although these costs are not well characterized in the United States. We collected cost data in the 12 mo following donation from 182 LKDs participating in the multicenter prospective Kidney Donor Outcomes Cohort (KDOC) Study. Most LKDs (n = 167, 92%) had one direct cost or more following donation, including ground transportation (86%), health care (41%), meals (53%), medications (36%), lodging (23%), and air transportation (12%). LKDs missed 33 072 total work hours, 40% of which were unpaid and led to $302 175 in lost wages (mean $1660). Caregivers lost $68 655 in wages (mean $377). Although some donors received financial assistance, 89% had a net financial loss in the 12-mo period, with one-third (33%) reporting a loss exceeding $2500. Financial burden was higher for those with greater travel distance to the transplant center (Spearman's ρ = 0.26, p < 0.001), lower household income (Spearman's ρ = −0.25, p < 0.001), and more unpaid work hours missed (Spearman's ρ = 0.52, p < 0.001). Achieving financial neutrality for LKDs must be an immediate priority for the transplant community, governmental agencies, insurance companies, nonprofit organizations, and society at large.

Data from the multi-center, prospective Kidney Donor Outcomes Cohort (KDOC) study shows that most donors experience direct costs, substantial lost wages, and a net financial loss in the first year after living kidney donation. See the editorial on page 741 from Formica and Newell.

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