Generosity and Gratitude: Mechanisms, Motivations and Models of Living Kidney Donation (2015-2016)

In 2012, despite a waiting list of more than 100,000, there were only 5,620 living kidney donors in the U.S. Only 161 of these were non-directed donors (i.e., donors who did not specify the recipient).

How do current mechanisms of kidney donation and motivating factors of those who donate encourage future live kidney donations? What are the barriers to living kidney donation, and how might we increase the pool of living kidney donors?

Looking closely at the current mechanisms of kidney donation and the motivations of those who donate, especially those who donate outside their circle of family and friends, this project explored innovative models of donation, with the aim of increasing the pool of living kidney donors. Given the large disparities between the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in whites (275 per million) and African Americans (924 per million), and similar disparities in kidney transplants, the project team focused specifically on the barriers to treatment and transplants among African Americans. The project also considered the role that faith and faith communities play, or might play, in the recruitment of living kidney donors.

Through their working group, this project team discovered an organization in New York City that helps find people who are willing to donate. The team deepened their understanding of how the power of religion and, more specifically, how Orthodox Judaism motivated people to donate kidneys and help strangers without receiving anything in return.


July 1 – December 30, 2015

Team Outcomes

Working group discussions held, networks built


Sarah Beaverson

This Team in the News

From Lab to Museum, Students Share Their Brain Research

See earlier related team, Living Donor Kidney Transplants and the Good Samaritan: Religious, Legal and Ethical Challenges of Nonsimultaneous, Extended, Altruistic Donor Chains (2014-2015).

Additional support for this project was provided by the Silver Family Kenan Institute for Ethics Fund in Support of Bass Connections.

Team Leaders

  • Kimberly Krawiec, Duke Law
  • David Toole, Divinity School

/graduate Team Members

  • Harrison Hines, Theological Studies-MTS, Theology, Medicine and Culture
  • Michael McCarty, Doctor of Theology
  • Kathleen Perry, Global Health - MSc

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sarah Beaverson, Biology (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • Julia Carp, Psychology (BS), Global Health (AB2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Raymond Barfield, School of Medicine-Pediatrics
  • Farr Curlin, School of Medicine-Medicine: General Internal Medicine
  • Warren Kinghorn, Divinity School|School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Richard Payne, Divinity School