Respecting living kidney donor autonomy: an argument for liberalising living kidney donor acceptance criteria

Alison C. Weightman, Simon Coghlan, Philip A. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Doctors routinely refuse donation offers from prospective living kidney donors with certain comorbidities such as diabetes or obesity out of concern for donor wellbeing. This refusal occurs despite the ongoing shortage of kidney transplants and the superior performance of living donor kidney transplants compared to those from deceased donors. In this paper, we argue that this paternalistic refusal by doctors is unjustified and that, within limits, there should be greater acceptance of such donations. We begin by describing possible weak and strong paternalistic justifications of current conservative donor acceptance guidelines and practices. We then justify our position by outlining the frequently under-recognised benefits and the routinely overestimated harms of such donation, before discussing the need to respect the autonomy of willing donors with certain comorbidities. Finally, we respond to a number of possible objections to our proposal for more liberal kidney donor acceptance criteria. We use the situation in Australia as our case study, but our argument is applicable to comparable situations around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalMonash Bioethics Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2023


  • Autonomy
  • Clinical decision making
  • Donor selection
  • Living kidney donation
  • Paternalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy

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