Traveling abroad to receive a kidney from a paid living donor at a commercial transplant center could carry considerable risks, according to a study presented at ASN Kidney Week 2015, held in San Diego.

Researchers in Bahrain retrospectively evaluated the health outcomes of patients who purchased organs internationally, mainly from the Phillippines, India, and Pakistan, and then came to their medical center for follow-up care between 1986 and 2014. The study included 270 transplant recipients who were compared with 123 recipients of living related donor transplants. 

Compared with controls, commercial recipients were more likely to develop hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and cytomegalovirus, and they were more likely to experience acute and recurrent rejections and surgical complications. 

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Overall one- and ten-year survival rates of the transplanted organs in commercial recipients compared with controls were 91% and 22% vs. 98% and 44%. Corresponding patient survival rates were 96% and 70% vs. 98% and 78%.

“The data are consistent with other reports,” Francis Delmonico, MD, who was not involved with the study and is the Executive Director of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group, said in a press release about the study. The Declaration was created in 2008 by an international team of experts to define organ trafficking, transplant tourism and commercialism, and achieve consensus regarding principles of practice and recommended alternatives to address the shortage of organs. 


1. Agroudy AE. Kidney Transplantation Tourism: High risk and bad outcome for the recipients. Abstract FR-PO1051. Presented at: Kidney Week 2015. Nov. 3-8, 2015. San Diego. 

This article originally appeared on Infectious Disease Advisor