Assessment of living kidney donors and adherence to national live donor guidelines in the UK

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Abstract

Background

As in most industrialized countries, living kidney donation has increased considerably in the UK and now amounts to 38% of the total UK kidney transplant activity. Living kidney donation guidelines have been formulated by the relevant national societies. We were interested to study whether or not renal units across the UK adhere to those guidelines and to delineate areas of inconsistency and controversy.

Methods

Twenty-four adult kidney transplant centres and 50 adult non-transplant renal units across the UK were contacted by a postal questionnaire from January to April 2011.

Results

Twenty-one of 24 (88%) transplanting units and 23 of 50 (46%) non-transplanting units responded. Eighty-one per cent of the responding transplanting units and only 30% of the non-transplanting units have a dedicated live donor clinic. Eighty-six per cent of all units are without a set upper age limit for donors, whereas 7% of units excluded all potential donors older than 70 years. Twenty per cent of units accept donors with body mass indices (BMIs) up to 35, whereas 9% of units did not have an upper limit for BMI. Thirty-two per cent of centres exclude hypertensive donors on more than one antihypertensive drug, whereas 64% of units exclude donors only if they are on more than two anti-hypertensive drugs. of units rely on a spot urine sample to assess proteinuria, while 30% of units still perform 24 h urine collection. Sixty one per cent of units perform computed tomography (CT) angiography to assess the renal vessels prior to donation, while 32% use magnetic resonance (MR) angiography. Seventy-five per cent of centres assess split kidney function by radionuclide testing in all cases, whereas 25% perform this test only if there is a discrepancy in kidney size. The practice of suspension of recipients with potential living donor from the deceased waiting list is also remarkably inconsistent, whereby some centres suspend once a decision for living donation has been made in principle, whereas others suspend the recipient only once a date for surgery has been agreed.

Conclusions

We demonstrate significant variability in accepting living kidney donors, particularly regarding age, BMI, and hypertension. Infrastructure setting for living donation and the live donor assessment are also remarkably inconsistent across the UK. It remains unclear as to why nephrologists decide not to adhere to established guidelines and further research should aim to find the lacking evidence in areas causing inconsistency in living donor assessment.

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