by George Taniwaki

Today, I have made my sixth visit to the University of Washington Medical Center as part of my evaluation as a nondirected living kidney donor. Today’s visit is an interview with the transplant program psychiatrist, Wayne Bentham. Like all the other doctors and surgeons I have met, he is also a professor at the medical school.

Wayne Bentham. Photo from UWMC

Dr. Bentham asked me questions very similar to those I was asked at my interview with the social worker (see Sep 2009 blog post). My answers were the same as then and so the interview went smoothly. It was over in less than 30 minutes. His interview is the last of four interviews required prior to my kidney donation. (Besides the psychiatrist and social worker, my other interviews were with a transplant program nephrologist and the surgeon).

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The first comprehensive guidelines for the psychosocial evaluation of all living donors (related, stranger, or nondirected) were published in the Amer. J. Transpl. May 2007. In an editorial in the Oct 2007 issue of the same journal, Dr. C. L. Davis, the director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at UWMC, emphasized the need for uniform standards for the evaluation of live donors. Her concern is driven by two articles in the same issue that report the results from a survey of 132 transplant centers (about half of all centers in the U.S.). The first report revealed a wide range of practices and a wide range of psychological criteria used for screening live donors. The other report showed a wide range of medical criteria used for screening donors.

The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine held a special interest group session on transplantation during its 2011 conference. Most of the content dealt with issues related to working with transplant recipients as  shown in the figure below.

TransplantPsych

Slide from the preconference course on Transplant Psychiatry Review. Image from APM

I also found two articles describing the psychological evaluation of nondirected donors. They are L. Kranenburg, et al. in Psychol Med Feb 2008 and R. Leo et al. in Psychosomatics Nov 2003, both require subscription to access.

For more information on how transplant hospitals evaluate living donors, visit the web sites for Transplant Living and materials prepared by UNOS.

For more information on becoming a kidney donor, see my Kidney donor guide.

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