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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2019, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (1): 3-7.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.11.007

• Original Clinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Acupuncture in living liver and kidney donors: a feasibility study

Michelle T. Jesse a, b, c, d(), Mathew Kulas e, Josephine Unitis f, Nemie Beltran f, Marwan Abouljoud a, f   

  1. a Transplant Institute, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    b Psychosomatic Medicine, Behavioral Health Services, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    c Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    d Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Wayne State School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    e Center for Integrative Medicine, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    f Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
  • Received:2018-02-28 Accepted:2018-10-31 Online:2019-01-15 Published:2019-05-18

The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of integrating acupuncture into the routine care of living liver and kidney donors during the process of donation and recovery.
This is a pilot study on the feasibility of a brief acupuncture intervention for living liver and kidney donors. Participants received acupuncture immediately prior to organ donation surgery, every day as inpatients, while recovering from donation, and at a 2-week follow-up. Prior to surgery, questionnaires were completed on acupuncture outcome expectations and the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory. After participating, those who received acupuncture provided feedback. Following the active intervention, a retrospective chart review was conducted, using donors who did not receive acupuncture as a comparison cohort.
Forty donor candidates were approached and recruited, 32 consented and ultimately 25 donors participated in the acupuncture intervention (15 of kidney, 10 of liver), 68% female, and 88% Caucasian; only one had prior experience with acupuncture. Participants received an average of 4 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 for relaxation and pain. However, a few patients reported feeling overburdened during postdonation recovery, and that the study was viewed as additional obligation.
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. Larger studies are needed to further ascertain benefits of peri-operative acupuncture.

Key words: Acupuncture, Living organ donation, Pain, Pilot projects, Feasibility studies

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