Previous research has shown contradictory results regarding the acceptance of xenotransplantation (XT) by kidney patients. This variance in attitude towards XT could be explained by differences in knowledge of XT, the availability of alternative treatment options, specific beliefs and cognitions of the patient, and differences in the health status of the patients. We studied 61 patients in this contention in the Netherlands waiting for a kidney transplant. All took part in in-depth interviews and filled out questionnaires on two occasions, once before and once after an information brochure on XT had been read. We found that a better health status is correlated with a greater acceptance of XT, but only before information was given. After information had been given, the acceptance of XT decreased significantly. However, if XT is the only possibility in a life-threatening situation, almost all patients are willing to accept XT, except for a small group (approximately 10-15%) with fundamental religious and/or spiritual objections against such treatment. When alternative treatment options such as a human cadaver donor, a living related donor or commercial donor are offered, the majority of patients would prefer those to XT. The main reason for reluctance is uncertainty about the risks of XT to personal health. Because alternatives are currently available, we expect that XT will become more popular only if future results of this procedure have proved to be comparable to transplantation with a human donor kidney.

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Social Science & Medicine
Department of Surgery

Kranenburg, L., Kerssens, C., IJzermans, J., Zuidema, W., Weimar, W., & van Busschbach, J. (2005). Reluctant acceptance of xenotransplantation in kidney patients on the waiting list for transplantation. Social Science & Medicine (Vol. 61, pp. 1828–1834). doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.03.035