Didactic_model_of_a_mammal_Kidney By Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP_CC BY-SA 4_0

Kidney donors have higher blood pressure, kidney problems, preeclampsia risk

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Donating a kidney may increase your risk of having high blood pressure, kidney problems and preeclampsia, according to UK-led research that brought together the data from 52 previously published studies, allowing them to compare health outcomes in around 100,000 kidney donors with outcomes in around 110,000 non-donors. However, kidney donors were no more likely to die than non-donors, did not have a higher risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetes, and enjoyed the same quality of life as non-donors, say the scientists.

Journal/conference: Annals of Internal Medicine

DOI: 10.7326/M17-1235

Organisation/s: University of Cambridge, UK

Funder: NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.

Media Release

From: American College of Physicians

Analysis looks at long-term risks of living kidney donation

Living kidney donors are not at increased risk for some health outcomes previously of concern, but do seem at risk for worse blood pressure and kidney function than nondonors. In addition, female donors seem to be at increased risk for preeclampsia. The findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

A team lead by researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, reviewed 52 published studies comprising more than 100,000 living kidney donors and more than 110,000 nondonors to assess the mid- and long-term health risks associated with living kidney donation in adults.

The data showed that kidney donors had higher diastolic blood pressure, poorer renal function, and higher risk for ESRD than nondonors. Female donors had an almost two-fold higher risk than nondonors for pregnancy-related complications, such as preeclampsia.

There was no evidence that living kidney donors had higher risk for mortality, cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes, or reduced quality of life. Lead author, Emanuele Di Angelantonio, MD, Director of the NIHR Blood and Transplant Unit (BTRU) in Donor Health and Genomics suggested that the findings may be used to inform prospective donors of the risks associated with kidney donation.

The authors of an editorial from the University of Pennsylvania write that despite 6 decades of living kidney donation, large and high-quality studies of ESRD and other relevant outcomes after donation have been completed only in the past decade. While the systematic review and meta-analysis provide some important answers, the field is still a long way from offering precise risk estimates to prospective donors.

The study was funded by the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit with the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre funding part of the study. 


  • American College of Physicians
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  • American College of Physicians
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