Get-togethers with a kidney disease patient's family and friends can improve their willingness to consider donation, according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, CA. The findings indicate that group-education of patients' relatives and friends is an effective way to help alleviate the organ shortage and increase living donations.

According to a press release by EurekAlert, while kidney transplantation from a living donor is the best treatment option for most patients with kidney failure, living donation is often overlooked because family members and friends are not aware that they could be potential donors and patients are reluctant or embarrassed to ask their loved ones for a kidney.

Ton van Kooy, MD, Marinus van den Dorpel, MD (Maasstadziekenhuis, Rotterdam, Netherlands), and their colleagues developed an intervention that addresses both of these issues. They invited relatives and friends of kidney disease patients to attend a meeting-usually at the patient's home-to get information about kidney disease, its impact on life, and how they could help the patient. An experienced hospital social worker and a trained nurse practitioner took part in the discussions, and they provided information on the differences between dialysis and kidney transplantation, including the risks and benefits of living kidney donation for both recipient and donor.

In all 10 groups that participated in these discussions, the patients, relatives, and friends unanimously welcomed the approach and felt an improved understanding and bonding within the group. Within three months, potential kidney donors came forward from all 10 groups. The results indicate that group education may enhance individuals' willingness to consider living kidney donation, which offers great potential benefits to patients.

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