Sex and Gender Disparities in Living Kidney Donation: A Scoping ReviewEswari Vilayur, Anita van Zwieten, Mingxing Chen, Anna Francis, Melanie Wyld, Siah Kim, Tess Cooper, Germaine Wong
Women are more likely than men to be living kidney donors. We summarized the evidence concerning the reasons behind sex and gender disparities in living kidney donation (LKD).
A scoping review of quantitative and qualitative evidence on reasons for sex and gender disparities in LKD was conducted from inception to March 2023.
Of 1123 studies screened, 45 were eligible for inclusion. Most studies were from North America, Europe, and Central Asia (n = 33, 73%). A predominance of women as living donors (55%–65%) was observed in 15 out of 18 (83%) studies. Reasons for sex and gender disparities in LKD included socioeconomic, biological, and cognitive or emotional factors. A gendered division of roles within the families was observed in most studies, with men being the primary income earner and women being the main caregiver. Fear of loss of income was a barrier to male donation. Human leukocyte antigen sensitization through pregnancy in female recipients precluded male partner donation, whereas female donation was supported by altruism and a positive attitude toward LKD.
Sex imbalance in LKD is prevalent, with a predominance of women as living donors. Such disparities are driven by societal and cultural perceptions of gender roles, pregnancy-induced sensitization, and attitudes toward donation and at least some of these factors are modifiable. Donor compensation to support predonation assessments and income loss, implementation of innovative desensitization treatments, promotion of paired kidney exchange program, and targeted educational initiatives to promote equitable living donation may help to close the gender gap in LKD.