Pilot study on acupuncture in living liver and kidney donors

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Am J Transplantation


Pain is an important concern in living donation. The purpose of this study was to test feasibility of integrating an acupuncture intervention pre/post-living donation and explore acupuncture's influence on pain in living liver and kidney donors. Methods: Pilot study on feasibility and potential effects of a brief acupuncture intervention on living liver and kidney donors immediately pre-and post-donation. Participants received acupuncture immediately prior to organ donation surgery, every day inpatient for donation and at the 2-week follow-up. Prior to surgery, completed questionnaire on expectation regarding acupuncture and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. After participating, provided feedback on acupuncture. Results: Twenty-four donors consented (15 kidneys, 9 liver), 66.7% female, 87.5% Caucasian, only one had prior experience with acupuncture. Mean state anxiety 29.5 (±9.7) and trait anxiety 26.8 (±6.4) were lower than national norms of healthy adults. Participants received an average of 4 acupuncture sessions while inpatient (range 2-8).Those who expected acupuncture to be more helpful prior to the intervention reported lower inpatient pain scores (p=0.04). Qualitative feedback from patients was predominantly positive indicating acupuncture was helpful with relaxation; one patient was able to avoid all narcotic use. However, a few patients reported feeling already overburdened recovering post-donation. Conclusions: Preliminary findings suggest it is feasible to integrate acupuncture into inpatient recovery for living organ donation. Tailoring interventions to the specific needs of patients is important to address ongoing concerns. Given limited sample size, larger studies are needed.




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