The implementation of a kidney exchange program does not induce a need for additional psychosocial support
Transplant International , Volume 20 - Issue 5 p. 432- 439
The Dutch kidney exchange donation program started in January 2004. A literature review has shown that several factors of the exchange program could influence the psychological well being of participants, such as the loss of the possibility of a 'medical excuse' for unwilling donors and the issue of anonymity. However, these factors have not been the subject of empirical study yet. We therefore studied these factors to determine whether additional psychosocial support is necessary for donors and recipients in the Dutch kidney exchange program. We used structured interviews for all 48 donors and recipients that had undergone exchange donation/transplantation in 2004. A psychologist interviewed the participants before and 3 months after transplantation. We included a comparison group of 48 donors and recipients participating in the regular living kidney donation program. Donors did not experience additional pressure to donate due to the exchange donation. Most participants (69%) preferred anonymity between the couples. Ten percentage needed additional emotional support. In this respect the exchange group did not differ from the comparison group. We conclude that the psychosocial support offered to exchange couples can be comparable with the support normally offered to participants in the regular living kidney donation program.