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Most Kidney Donors Lead Long, Healthy Lives
Date:1/28/2009

Biggest study of its kind finds no health downside to donation

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Americans who give the gift of life by donating a kidney tend to lead long, healthy lives themselves.

That's the conclusion of the largest, longest follow-up of donors ever conducted.

"Their lifespan is comparable to others of the same age, gender and ethnic background," said study author Dr. Hassan N. Ibrahim, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. "Indeed, it appears that that kidney donors might actually have better survival."

Ibrahim and his colleagues reported their findings in the Jan. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study tracked outcomes for nearly 3,700 people who donated kidneys, some as far back as 1963. It found that "their quality of life was better than 60 percent of the people in the general population of the same age and gender," Ibrahim said.

This is the first U.S. study to compare the survival of kidney donors to that of the general public, he noted. Two previous, smaller studies done in Norway and Sweden found similar results, but they did not measure the health of donors in as much detail or for as long as in this study, he added.

In addition to overall health, the study looked at measures of kidney function such as the glomerular filtration rate (the flow of filtered fluid through the kidney) as well as the presence of conditions such as high blood pressure.

"Kidney donors have excellent glomerular filtration rates 85 percent of the time," Ibrahim said. "Kidney donors are not likely to develop high blood pressure or have protein in their urine."

End-stage kidney failure developed in only 11 of the thousands of donors over the years, the study found.

Still, these results cannot necessarily be extrapolated into the future, Ibrahim said, because with more than 100,000 Americans on th
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