Live kidney donors are exhaustively screened pre-donation, creating a cohort inherently healthier at baseline than the general population. In recent years, three renowned research groups reported unfavourable outcomes for live kidney donors post-donation that contradicted their previous studies. Here, we compared the study design and analysis of the most recent and previous studies to determine whether the different outcomes were due to methodological design or reflect a real potential disadvantage for living kidney donors. All six studies on long-term risk after live kidney donation were thoroughly screened for the selection of study population, controls, data quality, and statistical analysis. Our detailed review of the methodology revealed key differences with respect to selection of donors and compared non-donors, data quality, follow-up duration, and statistical analysis. In all studies, the comparison group of non-donors was healthier than the donors due to more extensive exclusion criteria for non-donors. Five of the studies used both restriction and matching to address potential confounding. Different matching strategies and statistical analyses were used in the more recent studies compared to previous studies and follow-up was longer. Recently published papers still face bias. Strong points compared to initial analyses are the extended follow-up time, large sample sizes and better analysis, hence increasing the reliability to estimate potential risks for living kidney donors on the long-term. Future studies should focus on equal selection criteria for donors and non-donors, and in the analysis, follow-up duration, matched sets, and low absolute risks among donors should be accounted for when choosing the statistical technique.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Comparison studies, Follow-up, Live kidney donation, Methodology, Outcomes, Safety
Persistent URL,
Journal European Journal of Epidemiology
Janki, S, Steyerberg, E.W, Hofman, A, & IJzermans, J.N.M. (2017). Live kidney donation: are concerns about long-term safety justified?—A methodological review. European Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 32, pp. 103–111). doi:10.1007/s10654-016-0168-0