Q: Given that a healthy individual can live with just one kidney, why wouldn’t a parent donate a kidney to their child if that child needed a kidney transplant?
A: There are many factors to think about when considering organ donation, both for the person receiving the graft and the person donating a kidney.
While it’s true that a parent is often the ideal candidate to donate a kidney to their child, there may be reasons that make organ donation difficult or impossible.
First, there may be medical reasons that prevent a parent from donating a kidney. A parent may want nothing more than to give their child a healthy kidney but if they are not a compatible match medically—either because of blood type, antibodies of the recipient against the donor tissue, or an underlying health condition that would prevent them from being able to donate an organ—then they can’t consider it further.
The second reason preventing a parent from donating their kidney could be financial. A kidney transplant operation requires a donor to recover at home for a few weeks after surgery, which can impose a financial burden on some families if the potential donor is the sole income earner.
A third potential reason parents may not be able to donate a kidney to their child could be due to personal reasons. The decision to donate is not easy to make. Each person has a unique set of circumstances that will affect his or her decision.
Donating a kidney to their child is probably one of the most difficult and important choices a parent could ever face. For parents considering this option, the child’s healthcare team can play an important role in providing information and advice to help them make their decision.