NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—Morbid obesity often is a barrier to living kidney donation, researchers reported at the National Kidney Foundation 2012 Spring Clinical Meetings.

Mala Sachdeva, MD, and colleagues at Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine in Great Neck, N.Y., reviewed data on 104 potential living kidney donors and stratified them according to body mass index (BMI). The researchers looked at the outcomes of those with a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or higher, who are excluded from living donation according to the policy of their institution.

Of the 104 potential donors, 19 (18%) had a normal BMI (less than 25), 38 (37%) were overweight (BMI 25-29.9), 24 (23%) were obese (BMI 30-34.9), and 23 (22%) were morbidly obese (BMI 35 or greater).

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Of the 23 morbidly obese individuals, only three (13%) succeeded in losing weight and donating, Dr. Sachdeva’s group found. Seven (30%) were unable to lose weight but were trying, six (26%) changed their minds about donating, three (13%) were lost to follow up, two (9%) were rejected because of medical reasons, one declined for social reasons, and one declined because of recipient death.

“Weight loss leading to donation through diet and lifestyle modification appears to be unsuccessful, despite the fact that a considerable fraction of morbidly obese patients do report attempts at losing weight,” the investigators noted.