Background — For patients with a solitary kidney, such as living kidney donors, the surgical treatment of renal tumors may result in loss of function of the remaining kidney.
Methods — We conducted a retrospective, matched cohort study to determine the long-term risk of partial or total nephrectomy in previous living kidney donors compared to healthy nondonors. We reviewed the pre-donation charts for all living kidney donors in Ontario, Canada between 1992 and 2010 and linked this information to provincial healthcare databases.
Results — We matched 2119 donors to 21190 nondonors from the general population with similar baseline health. The median length of follow-up was 9.5 years (maximum 21.7 years). The rate of nephrectomy in follow-up was lower in donors versus nondonors (0 vs. 1.78 per 10000 person years; P = 0.037). In a subset of 1773 donors matched to 1773 healthy nondonors with renal imaging (median follow-up 7.6 years, maximum 21.0 years), the rate of nephrectomy was not statistically different in donors versus nondonors (0 vs. ≤5 per 10000 person years; P > 0.08).
Conclusion — No living kidney donor in our cohort received a partial or total nephrectomy of their remaining kidney during our follow-up period. Although we will continue to follow people in this study, these interim results are reassuring for the safety of kidney donation.