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PHC News: Why do women donate more kidneys than men?

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It usually gets a good laugh and an automatic, “Of course!” from a woman. Men, understandably, react a bit more sheepishly, but the numbers are telling. Most living kidney donors are women, accounting for three out of every five donors in BC. And it has been that way since the early days of living donor kidney transplantation.

Dr. Jagbir Gill, transplant nephrologist at St. Paul’s Hospital and CHÉOS researcher, sees it in his work every day and he has also studied this phenomenon. His latest research [co-authored by Drs. John Gill and Caren Rose], based on American data, was published today in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, appropriately on International Women’s Day and World Kidney Day. He found financial barriers play a role in gender differences of donations and he sees the same issue in Canada, “The onus may fall on the woman to donate because it’s more financially feasible for women to donate if men are more often the primary breadwinners.”

There are other theories too about why women step forward more often, and Dr. Gill says a lot of them haven’t been proven, but they are ‘common sense’ reasons, “Such as the idea that women have higher levels of altruism, and perhaps there is a different level of expectation between men and women when asked to donate.”
A German study, also published today, shows the disparity continues even amongst married couples. The analysis of donations rates across Europe found more than a third of women who could donate a kidney to their husband do so, but only about one in 15 of clinically suitable men donate a kidney to their wives.

Read the full story on PHC News.

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