Reducing the psychological complications linked to kidney donation

Donating a kidney so that a loved one can benefit from a transplant is a special and important act that can have certain psychological, interpersonal and social implications that need to be thoroughly considered. Consequently, during the living donor assessment process, donors meet with a member of the transplantation team, a health professional who specializes in evaluating and supporting people wishing to donate a kidney. Each potential donor meets with this health professional to create an opportunity to discuss and reflect so that the living donation process will go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved. During the meeting, many issues can be discussed, including not only the donor’s decision-making process and motivations and the donor-recipient relationship, but also the donor’s expectations regarding the transplant, preparations, understanding of the available information and the importance of making a living donation without outside pressure and with full, informed consent.

Generally speaking, after making a living donation, most donors speak of positive experiences in their journey and, in retrospect, would do it all again if they had to.

Donors report a range of positive reactions, such as an increase in self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and pride, personal growth, interpersonal benefits and so on. That said, the fact remains that living donation is a demanding process during which potential living donors are required to face a number of stressors such as:

  • anxiety associated with having their eligibility assessed
  • the possibility of being refused
  • facing the unknown
  • long waits
  • surgery
  • being hospitalized at the same time as the recipient
  • fear of the recipient’s body rejecting the kidney

Note that a small proportion of donors report experiencing psychological difficulties and more significant complications, particularly in cases where the transplant did not turn out as hoped. Should the need arise at any point during the living donation process, do not hesitate to ask for help. You will find that the support you receive from your loved ones and others around you are invaluable assets in your journey.