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Elder Law Attorney, Rajiv Nagaich has a friend in need of a kidney.   He’s been talking about this need on the radio show for the past couple weeks.  There are benefits to both the kidney donor as well as the recipient. 

One in 10 American adults (over 20 million) has some sort of chronic kidney disease.  Because chronic kidney disease affects more people over the age of 65 than those younger than 65, as the Baby Boomers reach age 65 that number is expected to rise.  The relationship between chronic kidney disease and end stage renal failure is complex, at least in part due to its much higher prevalence in African Americans than in white Americans (i.e. there isn’t a much higher number of African Americans with chronic kidney disease than there are white Americans and yet the incidence of end stage renal failure is five times higher in African Americans than in white Americans).

Almost 900,000 Americans have end stage renal failure.  And people with kidney failure really have only two long term options (dialysis is a short term solution).  They can get a kidney transplant or they can die.

Kidney transplants save lives.  You might be asking yourself, why don’t they get kidneys from cadavers?  The fact is that we do but over 5,000 people die each year waiting for a kidney transplant and yet unlike waiting for a heart transplant, a kidney donor doesn’t need to die to help someone live.  In fact, living kidney donations is now the preferred method of providing a transplant.  The benefits of living donations over cadaver donations include:

  • Survival rates are higher (about 18 years as compared to 13 years);
  • The recipient knows something about the donor’s lifestyle and medical history;
  • Living kidneys start to work almost immediately whereas kidneys from cadavers can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks;
  • Allows an individual to avoid dialysis (which deteriorates the health of the recipient); and
  • Surgery can be scheduled rather than performed on an emergency basis.

Listen to this story on how one living donor changed someone’s life.  [audio:]

Some people worry about the risks of donating a kidney but a recent study out of Johns Hopkins found that there was a higher rate of kidney failure amongst people with two kidneys than amongst people who had donated a kidney, likely because of the higher level of screening for donors.  And finally, if donating a kidney is something you worry about in case your own kidney should ever fail, the study’s leader, Dr. Dorry Segev said that those who have donated kidneys are given high priority on kidney transplant waiting lists.

For more information on becoming a kidney donor, check out this story on WebMD.


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