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Impaired psychosocial outcome of donors after living donor liver transplantation: a qualitative case study


Dr Marc Walter, Department of Psychiatry, University of Basel, Wilhelm Klein-Strasse 27, CH- 4025 Basel, Switzerland.
Tel.: +41 61 325 51 76; fax: +41 61 325 50 13;


Abstract:  Adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) of the right hepatic lobe has been developing into an established therapy for treating pre-terminal liver diseases. There is little experience available on the psychosocial outcome of living donors. The aim of this first qualitative case study was to investigate the patterns for impaired psychosocial outcome in donors after LDLT. Donor hepatectomies were performed in 30 donors at the Charité Berlin. Six months after surgery, the six of the 30 donors with negative moods and physical complaints in psychometric monitoring were examined. The post-operative interviews were transcribed and analysed using current qualitative research methods. These six donors (20%) reported various unspecific complaints and psychological conflicts. Sadness was expressed about organ rejection and death of the recipient. Anxieties about the recipient and their own health were verbalized. Disappointment and anger refer to the experience that they were not as fully appreciated by the medical system and their social environment as expected. The negative emotions of donors with impaired psychosocial outcome could be related to a decrease in self-esteem in the post-operative course. Adequate medical and psychological treatment opportunities for these donors should be provided.