Social work: psychological aspects

Once you have definitively registered as a potential donor, you’ll have an interview with a social worker of the transplantation team. During the interview we want to inform you about the psychological, social and insurance aspects of a kidney donation. This gives you insight into the consequences of your offer to give away a kidney.

In order to guarantee your interests as a donor as much as possible, we have opted to separate the guidance we provide to the recipient and the donor. For that reason, the social worker (like the doctor) only looks after your interests and not those of the recipient. We think it is very important that your decision to donate is very carefully considered.

In the interview with the social worker all pros and cons of your decision to donate are discussed. This brings to light whether you have thought carefully about a number of issues and are able to confirm your choice. The interview may also give rise to new questions.

In the interview personal issues are discussed. This includes among others your previous and current family situation, your housing and working conditions and your social network. Next, we discuss in further detail a number of aspects related to your offer to donate. To whom do you wish to donate? What is your relationship with the recipient? Whom you donate to may be important. As a parent for instance the decision to donate to your child is usually a lot easier than the decision to receive from your child.

Talking to people close to you

The decision to donate your kidney does not only have consequences for you and for the recipient. So we don’t just want to hear from you whether you have discussed your offer with the recipient and whether he or she has accepted your offer.

We would also like to know whether those close to you are aware of your plans and what they think. Say you donate to your mother and you are married. Do your partner and/or children agree? Do they support your decision or do they have objections and have you considered their objections? Practice has shown that it is often more difficult to accept the offer than to make the offer. Sometimes more than one interview is needed to let the recipient grow towards accepting.

Questions to think about

Irrespective of your reasons to donate, we think that both for you and the recipient it would be good to resume normal life after a possible kidney transplantation. Without the gift of the kidney giving rise to mutual dependence, obligations, and/or irritation between you.

That is why we also wish to look closer at the following questions.

What are your thoughts about the recipient’s own responsibility as regards his or her health and treatment? If all goes well with a new kidney the recipient will get a better quality of life, but still has to take medication against rejection. As a donor do you think it is important to know that the recipient is careful with the kidney or is that not important for you?

No matter how you look at it, a new kidney is a great gift. How do you deal with the gratitude of the other?

Many factors play a role in the decision to perform a transplantation, and the team does not take that decision lightly. No matter how well considered that decision is and how big the chance of success, sometimes it happens that the kidney is rejected after a while. Does or did that play a role for you in your decision to donate?

Sometimes the transplantation procedure needs to be terminated prematurely or even at the last moment. You have to realize that this is not necessarily only because of physical reasons. As a donor you can always have second thoughts and withdraw from the procedure. Donating is an irreversible process. If necessary, we can guide you through that process. From experience it is known that when the procedure needs to be terminated at a late stage, this may result in great disappointment. Have you considered this and how do you deal with disappointment in general?