There have been two recent trends in living kidney donation: increased acceptance of living donors and increased acceptance of laparoscopic nephrectomy (LN).
We surveyed 234 UNOS-listed kidney transplant programs to determine current living donor morbidity and mortality for open nephrectomy, hand-assisted LN, and non-hand-assisted LN.
Of the 234 centers, 171 (73%) responded. Between 1/1/1999 and 7/1/2001, these centers carried out 10 828 living donor nephrectomies: 52.3% open, 20.7% hand-assisted LN, and 27% non-hand-assisted LN. Two donors (0.02%) died from surgical complications and one is in a persistent vegetative state (all after LN). Reoperation was necessary in 22 (0.4%) open, 23 (1.0%) hand-assisted LN, and 21 (0.9%) non-hand-assisted LN cases (p = 0.001). Complications not requiring reoperation were reported for 19 (0.3%) open, 22 (1.0%) hand-assisted LN, and 24 (0.8%) non-hand-assisted LN cases (p = 0.02). Readmission rate was higher for LN (1.6%) vs. open (0.6%) donors (p < 0.001), almost entirely as a result of an increase in gastrointestinal complications in LN donors.
Morbidity and mortality for living donor nephrectomy at transplant centers in the United States remain low. We provide current data from which comprehensive informed consent can be obtained from donors.