Key-hole surgery makes live-donor kidney donation safer

Research News from British Journal of Surgery

Using key-hole surgery to remove a kidney from a healthy living donor means that donors require less pain relief after the operation, spend less time in hospital and return to work sooner than donors who give up a kidney by standard open surgery. Writing in the latest edition of the British Journal of Surgery, Dr Alexander Handschin, Dr Markus Weber, Professor Pierre-Alan Clavien and colleagues from Zurich, Switzerland, say that this method of obtaining kidneys is likely to become the ‘gold standard’ in the near future.

People experiencing kidney failure face a dangerous situation, however current surgical and medical technology makes transplanted kidneys more likely than ever to work. However there are many more people suitable to receive a kidney than there are kidneys available, and the mis-match is growing.

As part of the solution, increasing numbers of people are donating kidneys while they are still alive and healthy. Already 17 per cent of all kidney donations in Germany, 30 per cent in the USA and 50 per cent in Scandinavia come from live donors. Thus far there has been minimal use of the technique in the UK.

Doctors believe that if the operation needed to remove a kidney is less traumatic, more people will be prepared to undergo live donation of one of their kidneys. Reviewing results from 57 separate studies enabled Handschin to conclude that laparoscopic (key hole) surgery was not only safe, but better for the donor than conventional surgery.

Commenting on this research, transplant surgeon Professor Michael Nicholson, who works at Leicester General Hospital, said “In the USA we can see that live donation rates have increased as donors have seen that laparoscopic surgery can make the operation less disruptive to their lives.”

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