Background: The dramatic shortage of kidney donors has triggered interest in other sources of organs, such as donors without a heartbeat. Accumulating evidence suggests that the short-term survival of cadaveric kidneys from such donors is similar to that of cadaveric kidneys from donors with a heartbeat. However, no data from large, matched studies with long-term follow-up are available. We conducted a matched, single-center study of kidney transplants obtained from donors without a heartbeat and those from donors with a heartbeat, with a 15-year follow-up period.
Methods: Between 1985 and 2000, 122 kidney transplantations involving donors without a heartbeat were performed at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland. Outcomes of these procedures were compared with those of 122 transplantations of kidneys from donors with a heartbeat. The recipients were matched according to age, sex, number of transplantations, and calendar period of transplantation.
Results: The characteristics of the recipients did not differ significantly between the two groups. We observed a significantly higher incidence of delayed graft function among the patients who received kidneys from donors without a heartbeat (48.4 percent) than among the patients who received kidneys from donors with a heartbeat (23.8 percent) (P<0.001). However, the long-term rate of graft survival was similar in the two groups (P=0.98): at 10 years, the rate of graft survival was 78.7 percent for kidneys from donors without a heartbeat and 76.7 percent for kidneys from donors with a heartbeat.
Conclusions: Although the incidence of delayed graft function is significantly higher with kidneys from donors without a heartbeat than with kidneys from donors with a heartbeat, there is no difference in long-term outcome between the two types of graft.
Copyright 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society