By Kaitlyn Schaeffer

Every year around 6000 people choose to make living donations; most donate kidneys to people they know, such as friends and family, but many make donations to strangers. There have been many calls for more people do donate kidneys while they’re still alive, but this mobilization has encountered some road bumps: the risks surrounding this complex procedure are still somewhat unknown.

Experts worry that current guidelines are inconsistent and that potential donors cannot be comprehensively informed as to the risks of the procedure. Currently, there is no national database that tracks the long-term health of donors. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) tracks kidney donors for two years after their procedures have been performed, but does not plan to extend this contact period in the future.

“How can we tell them about the risks if there’s no database with long-term information?” asked Dr. Lainie Ross, associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. “We aren’t following them long-term, and that’s the real problem.”

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