Introduction: Survival of transplanted patients is generally much better than for those on dialysis. This comparison is, however, incorrect, as in order to be accepted for renal transplantation the patient has to be in a relatively good condition and in addition transplanted patients are usually younger. We compared survival of all renal replacement therapy (RRT) patients who had undergone an identical medical check-up, been accepted, and put on the waiting list for cadaveric-kidney transplantation at Huddinge University hospital. A comparison with patients who were transplanted with a kidney from a living related donor (LD) is also included.
Methods: All patients (n=608) accepted and on the waiting list for renal transplantation between January 1987 and April 1996 formed the basis of the study. Follow-up was terminated on 31 December 1997. Survival was recorded from the date that the patients were accepted and put on the waiting list. As long as the patient was not transplanted and remained on dialysis treatment, survival was considered as 'survival on dialysis', and if transplanted, subsequent survival was defined as 'survival after cadaveric-kidney transplantation'. A patient who had been transplanted remained in that group for the rest of the observation period even if the transplantation had failed and the patient had to go back to dialysis after the surgery.
Results: Five-year survival was considerably better after LD-kidney transplantation (94%), than after cadaveric-kidney transplantation (76%) or on chronic dialysis (60%). Cox hazard regression analysis gave an age-adjusted relative risk for death of 0.46 for LD-transplanted and 1.49 for remaining on dialysis compared with cadaveric-transplanted patients. Transplanted patients, however, experienced a higher mortality during the first year after the transplantation than patients still on dialysis.
Conclusions: LD-kidney transplantation is clearly associated with a superior survival. Mortality is relatively high after cadaveric-kidney transplantation, especially during the first months after surgery. Nevertheless, in the long term cadaveric kidney transplanted patients have a better survival than those remaining on dialysis.