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Health care costs for the evaluation, surgery, and follow-up care of living kidney donors

Habbous S, Sarma S, Barnieh L, McArthur E, Klarenbach S, Manns B, Begen MA, Lentine KL, Garg AX; Donor Nephrectomy Outcomes Research (DONOR) Network. Transplantation. 2018; 102(8):1367-74. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


Background — The health care costs to evaluate, perform surgery, and follow a living kidney donor for the year after donation are poorly described.

Methods — We obtained information on the healthcare costs of 1099 living kidney donors between April 1, 2004, and March 31, 2014, from Ontario, Canada, using comprehensive healthcare administrative databases. We estimated the cost of 3 periods of the living donation process: the predonation evaluation period (start of evaluation until the day before donation), perioperative period (day of donation until 30-days postdonation), and 1 year of follow-up period (after perioperative period until 1-year postdonation). We analyzed data for donors and healthy matched nondonor controls using regression-based methods to estimate the incremental cost of living donation. Costs are presented from the perspective of the Canadian healthcare payer (2017 CAD $).

Results — The incremental healthcare costs (compared with controls) for the evaluation, perioperative, and follow-up periods were CAD $3596 (95% confidence interval [CI], CAD $3350-$3842), CAD $11 694 (95% CI, CAD $11 415-CAD $11 973), and CAD $1011 (95% CI, CAD $793-CAD $1230), respectively, totalling CAD $16 290 (95% CI, CAD $15 814-CAD $16 767). The evaluation cost was higher if the intended recipient started dialysis part-way through the donor evaluation (CAD $886; 95% CI, CAD $19, CAD $1752). The perioperative cost varied across transplant centers (p<0.0001).

Conclusion — While substantial costs of living donor care are related to the nephrectomy procedure, comprehensive assessment of costs must also include the evaluation and follow-up periods. These estimates are informative for planning future work to support and expand living donation and transplantation, and directing efforts to improve the cost efficiency of living donor care.

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