THURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Kidney donation is one of the most selfless acts one person can do for another. And now a new study finds that former donors who find they need a kidney later in life are benefiting from policies that give them priority on the transplant waiting list.
Living donors provided organs for almost 6,300 of the 16,900 kidney transplants that took place in the United States in 2010, according to background information supplied by the study researchers.
At the time of donation, most live kidney donors have no health problems after their generous gift. However, recent research has suggested that giving away one kidney might raise the risk of kidney failure later in life.
Researchers led by Dr. Peter Reese of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tracked outcomes for two sets of people who were placed on U.S. kidney transplant waiting lists between 1996 and 2010 -- people who had donated a kidney, and non-donors.
The organ donors had much shorter waiting times for a transplant and received higher-quality kidneys than non-donors, Reese's team found.
"This study shows that the policy is working: prior organ donors get rapid access to high-quality organs," Reese said in a journal news release. "After transplant, their survival is excellent compared with similar people who were not organ donors."
However, most live kidney donors needed dialysis before they received their new kidney. Ideally, these patients should receive new kidneys before they got to a stage where they required dialysis, Reese said.
The findings are published Nov. 20 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The National Kidney Foundation has more about living donation.