Current Transplantation Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 192–198 | Cite as

Emerging Ethical Challenges in Living Kidney Donation

  • Virginie Vallée Guignard
  • Marie-Chantal FortinEmail author
Live Kidney Donation (K Lentine and R Schaffer, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Live Kidney Donation


Purpose of Review

Living-donor kidney transplantation (LDKT) offers the best medical outcomes in terms of graft and patient survival for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. LDKT involves a medically and psychologically suitable individual willingly agreeing to donate a kidney to a loved one or stranger. It is a unique situation in which a healthy person consents to having a medical procedure for another person’s benefit. LDKT raises numerous ethical issues, particularly with respect to voluntary consent, risks and benefits, and vulnerability.

Recent Findings

In recent years, the discovery of APOL1, a gene associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease and ESRD in African Americans, and unique situations arising from requests to undergo living donation from persons who are not traditionally healthy or have social circumstances that may challenge influence-free, informed decision making have challenged the ethics of LDKT.


In this article, we discuss the ethical issues surrounding three emerging situations in LDKT: living kidney donors with life-limiting illness, incarcerated living kidney donors, and APOL1 genotyping in the context of living donor candidate evaluation.


Living kidney donation Bioethics Living donors with life-limiting illness Inmates as living donors APOL1 genetic testing Informed consent 



Dr. Fortin is a research scholar of the Fonds de recherche du Québec–Santé (career award).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Virginie Vallée Guignard and Marie-Chantal Fortin declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginie Vallée Guignard
    • 1
  • Marie-Chantal Fortin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM)MontréalCanada
  3. 3.Canadian Donation and Transplant Research ProgramEdmonton in AlbertaCanada

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