Mayo Clinic study confirms living kidney donor surgery is low risk for most patients

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The risk of major complications for people who donate a kidney via laparoscopic surgery is minimal. That is the conclusion of a 20-year Mayo Clinic (Rochester, USA) study of more than 3,000 living kidney donors, which has been published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Only 2.5% of patients in the study experienced major complications, and all recovered completely.

“The results of this study are extremely reassuring for individuals who are considering being living kidney donors. We found that this lifesaving surgery, when performed at experienced transplant centres, is extremely safe,” said study co-author Timucin Taner (William J von Liebig Center for Transplantation and Clinical Regeneration, Rochester, USA).

The results are “significant”, according to a Mayo Clinic press release, given that nearly 90,000 people in the USA are waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant. Patients who receive a kidney from a living donor generally have better outcomes, and living donor kidneys also usually function longer than those from deceased donors.

This retrospective, single-centre study is believed to be the largest research study to date to examine the risks associated with living kidney donation via laparoscopic surgery. The study involved 3,002 living kidney donors who underwent laparoscopic living kidney donor surgery at the transplant centre from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2019.

The study tracked complications that occurred up to 120 days after surgery. Overall, 12.4% of patients had postsurgical complications, predominantly an infection or hernia related to the incision. The researchers found that 76% of those complications happened after the patient was discharged. No patients died, they reported.

“While this study reinforces the safety of this surgical procedure, it does highlight the importance of following up with the donors after donation. That ensures any complications can be treated quickly without any long-term damage,” Taner added.

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