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BACKGROUND: Living kidney organ donors offer a cost-effective alternative to deceased organ donation. They enable patients with life-threatening conditions to receive grafts that would otherwise not be available, thereby creating space for other patients waiting for organs and contributing to reducing overall waiting times for organs. There is an emerging consensus that an increase in living donation could contribute even more than deceased donation to reducing inequalities in organ donation between different population sub-groups in England. Increasing living donation is thus a priority for National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) in the United Kingdom.

METHODS: Using the random forest model, a machine learning (ML) approach, this study analyzed eight waves of repeated cross-sectional survey data collected from 2017 to 2021 (n = 14,278) as part of the organ donation attitudinal tracker survey commissioned by NHSBT in England to identify and help predict key factors that inform public intentions to become living donors.

RESULTS: Overall, around 58.8% of the population would consider donating their kidney to a family member (50.5%), a friend (28%) or an unknown person (13.2%). The ML algorithm identified important factors that influence intentions to become a living kidney donor. They include, in reducing order of importance, support for organ donation, awareness of organ donation publicity campaigns, gender, age, occupation, religion, number of children in the household, and ethnic origin. Support for organ donation, awareness of public campaigns, and being younger were all positively associated with predicted propensity for living donation. The variable importance scores show that ethnic origin and religion were less important than the other variables in predicting living donor intention.

CONCLUSION: Factors influencing intentions to become a living donor are complex and highly individual in nature. Machine learning methods that allow for complex interactions between characteristics can be helpful in explaining these decisions. This work has identified important factors and subgroups that have higher propensity for living donation. Interventions should target both potential live donors and recipients. Research is needed to explore the extent to which these preferences are malleable to better understand what works and in which contexts to increase live organ donation.


  • Child, Humans, Living Donors, Intention, Kidney Transplantation, Cross-Sectional Studies, State Medicine, England
Original languageEnglish
Article number1052338
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

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