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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Husbands hang on to their kidneys
Kidney transplant
A kidney transplant can transform the recipient's life
Wives are much more likely than husbands to be prepared to donate a kidney to their spouse, experts have found.

The researchers, writing in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, found the disparity after checking through the records of almost 150 transplant operations.

In fact, 36% of wives found to have matching organs actually went on to have the operation - compared to just 6.5% of husbands.

The author commented: "Numerous studies document that women constitute the majority of living kidney donors - but the reasons behind the disparity in donation rates between men and women remain obscure."

Approximately the same proportion of men and women prove to be suitable donors.

When donations to blood relatives are considered alongside those to spouses, 28.3% of acceptable female donors go on to give a kidney, compared to 20% of suitable men.

One suggestion put forward by the authors is that working arrangements and potential future earnings may be a reason behind the higher number of wives who are prepared to give an organ.

But the authors note that "broad-based attitudinal differences" between men and women may have to be addressed.

kidney box
There is a nationwide shortage of donor kidneys
Kidney transplantation is a relatively common operation, as the human body, which has two kidneys, can function perfectly adequately with only one.

The life of a patient suffering from kidney failure, and requiring regular kidney dialysis, can be transformed by such an operation.

There is a nationwide shortage of donor organs for transplantation.

Colleen Sutcliffe from Mitcham in Surrey donated one of her kidneys to her husband Andy earlier this year.

Though one of the youngest live donors at the age of 29, and the mother of two young children, she says she had no second thoughts about going through the surgery.

"I wasn't really worried about myself. My main concern was to give Andy some quality of life and to give the children some more time with their daddy. The fact that he's 100% better has made it worth it," she told BBC News Online.

Mrs Sutcliffe believe the decision to act as a donor is easier when both partners are going through the ordeal of surgery together, but she also believes the decision to donate comes easier to women.

"Woman are used to giving more of themselves, to being the caregivers. Men don't like being restricted or disabled for long periods and that's inevitable. It's also a hugely emotional decision to make," she added.

"I don't really think it's that difficult. Obviously everyone has their own emotional or moral reasons but all it starts with a simple blood test and you can change your mind at any time right up until they put you to sleep."

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See also:

27 Jan 00 | Health
'I donated a kidney to my son'
13 Jun 00 | Health
Doctors call for organ reform
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