Background: Infants make up the most high-risk, difficult to care for subgroup undergoing kidney transplantation, with the lowest 1- and 2-year graft survival rates of any other age group. The principal causes of graft loss have been graft thrombosis, primary nonfunction, technical error, and irreversible acute rejection.
Hypothesis: Infants undergoing kidney transplantation can achieve near 100% graft survival at 2 years following surgery, despite their very high-risk status.
Design: Analysis of 45 consecutive kidney transplants performed in patients weighing less than or equal to 15 kg during an 8-year period beginning August 1991. Patients included complex referrals from throughout the United States and all received transplants and were cared for by the same pediatric kidney transplantation team.
Results: Mean weight at transplantation was 11. 2 kg. Renal failure was due to congenital or urologic causes in the majority (53%) of cases. Size-discrepant adult-sized kidney grafts were transplanted in 80% of patients; 64% received live-donor grafts; 78% were receiving dialysis prior to transplantation; and 27% had extremely small bladders (<20 cm(3)) requiring modification of the ureteral implantation. Excluding 1 transplant-unrelated death, graft and patient survival at 2 years was 100%. Eight-year patient and graft survival rates (for our combined live and cadaver donor series) were 89.6% and 84.6%, respectively. This compares favorably with much lower graft survival in low-risk adult recipients. Delayed graft function occurred in only 1 patient (2%). Rate of incidence of rejection was 9.3% within 2 years of transplantation and the overall rejection rate was 15.5%. No graft was lost to vascular thrombosis, primary nonfunction, technical error, or acute rejection. The mean creatinine level was 53.04 micromol/L (0.6 mg/dL) and 61.9 micromol/L (0.7 mg/dL) at 1 and 2 years, respectively, and 88.4 micromol/L (1.0 mg/dL) at 3, 4, and 5 years after transplantation.
Conclusion: One hundred percent 2-year and excellent 8-year graft survival rates can be achieved in what has historically been the highest-risk and most difficult to care for patient subgroup undergoing kidney transplantation.