PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD KIDNEY DONATION BY FRIENDS AND ALTRUISTIC STRANGERS IN THE UNITED STATES

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Abstract

Background.

A severe shortage of organs is one of the major barriers facing transplantation today. One promising approach to this serious problem is to increase the use of genetically unrelated living kidney donors. Because of excellent results and favorable ethical considerations, spousal donation has become a widely accepted practice in the United States. The majority of U.S. transplant centers are now also willing to consider friends as donors, but they seem to be less comfortable about this donor source and most centers are opposed to using strangers. This study was designed to see what the public thinks about these issues.

Methods.

A telephone survey of 1009 randomly selected adults living in the U.S. was conducted by the Gallup Organization. The survey asked about the acceptability of kidney donation by close friends and altruistic strangers and the willingness of respondents to make such donations themselves.

Results.

Over 90% of respondents believe that kidney donation by close friends is acceptable and 80% feel the same way about kidney donation by altruistic strangers. Most respondents (76%) would probably donate a kidney to a close friend with renal failure and 24% said they would even donate a kidney to a stranger for free.

Conclusion.

It seems that the vast majority of American adults believe that living kidney donation by friends and altruistic strangers is an acceptable practice and many would consider making such donations themselves. When considered along with excellent results and favorable ethical arguments, these data suggest that kidney donation by friends and altruistic strangers should be considered as acceptable as is donation by spouses.

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