Obesity is forcing a change of plans in living donors who are otherwise a perfect match.
While being overweight can lead to health problems, medical experts said our nation's growing obesity epidemic has caused obesity in one person to take a toll on the health of another.
"More people who volunteer to be living donors have a weight problem," said Dr. Micheal Moritz, chief of transplant services for the Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Each year, Moritz said, the center does about 70 kidney transplants, and each year, obesity becomes an increasing factor.
Because of obesity, Moritz said some recipients have to wait longer for transplants because their living donor volunteers are not allowed to donate.
"Morbidly obese individuals with one kidney as opposed to two probably do have higher risks in terms or long term high blood pressure and kidney disease," said Moritz.
Because of this, transplant centers across the country have started tracking the health of potential donors.
At Lehigh Valley Health Network, potential donors meet with nutritionists and medical experts, who decide who is and who is not healthy enough to give the gift of life.
"A few people in response to that have said, 'No problem. I will lose my excess weight, and then I am going to donate,' and that's great," said Moritz, who noted that obesity is also a major problem for some recipients.
The long term goal, Moritz said, is to keep the donor and the recipient at a healthy weight following the transplant.