Waiting time on dialysis as the strongest modifiable risk factor for renal transplant outcomes: a paired donor kidney analysis

Transplantation. 2002 Nov 27;74(10):1377-81. doi: 10.1097/00007890-200211270-00005.


Background: Waiting time on dialysis has been shown to be associated with worse outcomes after living and cadaveric transplantation. To validate and quantify end-stage renal disease (ESRD) time as an independent risk factor for kidney transplantation, we compared the outcome of paired donor kidneys, destined to patients who had ESRD more than 2 years compared to patients who had ESRD less than 6 months.

Methods: We analyzed data available from the U.S. Renal Data System database between 1988 and 1998 by Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox proportional hazards models to quantify the effect of ESRD time on paired cadaveric kidneys and on all cadaveric kidneys compared to living-donated kidneys.

Results: Five- and 10-year unadjusted graft survival rates were significantly worse in paired kidney recipients who had undergone more than 24 months of dialysis (58% and 29%, respectively) compared to paired kidney recipients who had undergone less than 6 months of dialysis (78% and 63%, respectively; P<0.001 each). Ten-year overall adjusted graft survival for cadaveric transplants was 69% for preemptive transplants versus 39% for transplants after 24 months on dialysis. For living transplants, 10-year overall adjusted graft survival was 75% for preemptive transplants versus 49% for transplants after 24 month on dialysis.

Conclusions: ESRD time is arguably the strongest independent modifiable risk factor for renal transplant outcomes. Part of the advantage of living-donor versus cadaveric-donor transplantation may be explained by waiting time. This effect is dominant enough that a cadaveric renal transplant recipient with an ESRD time less than 6 months has the equivalent graft survival of living donor transplant recipients who wait on dialysis for more than 2 years.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Living Donors
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • Treatment Outcome