Encouraging psychological outcomes after altruistic donation to a stranger
In a growing number of transplant centers worldwide, altruistic donors are accepted to anonymously donate a kidney to a stranger. An important hesitation to expand these transplantation programs is the fear of evoking psychological distress in the altruistic donor after donation. To what extent this fear is justified has not yet been systematically investigated. In this study, 24 altruistic donors were interviewed on average 2 years after donation. Lifetime mental health history, current psychological complaints, satisfaction with and impact of the donation on well-being, motives for donation, communication with recipient and donation experience were assessed. Altruistic donors report a considerable positive impact of donation on psychological well-being, whereas negative impact was limited. Satisfaction with donation was very high. Although a history of a psychiatric diagnosis was ascertained in almost half of the donors, psychological complaints before and after donation were comparable to national average norm scores. Motives for donation were genuine and the experience of donation generally conformed to their expectations. In conclusion, living kidney donation to a stranger does not appear to exacerbate psychological complaints. Moreover, altruistic donors report considerable satisfaction and personal benefit. The exceptional gift of altruistic donors can contribute toward solving the current organ shortage issue.