Historically, to minimize risks, living kidney donors have been highly selected and healthy. Operative risks are well-defined, yet concern remains about long-term risks. In the general population, even a mild reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is associated with cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). However, reduction in GFR in the general population is due to kidney or systemic disease. Retrospective studies comparing donors with matched general population controls have found no increased donor risk. Prospective studies comparing donors with controls (maximum follow-up, 9 years) have reported that donor GFR is stable or increases slightly, whereas GFR decreases in controls. However, these same studies identified metabolic and vascular donor abnormalities. There are a few retrospective studies comparing donors with controls. Each has limitations in selection of the control group, statistical analyses, and/or length of follow-up. One such study reported increased donor mortality; 2 reported a small increase in absolute risk of ESKD. Risk factors for donor ESKD are similar to those in the general population. Postdonation pregnancies are also associated with increased risk of hypertension and preeclampsia. There is a critical need for long-term follow-up studies comparing donors with controls from the same era, geographic area, and socioeconomic status who are healthy, with normal renal function on the date matching the date of donation, and are matched on demographic characteristics with the donors. These data are needed to optimize donor candidate counseling and informed consent.
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