Background: A third of all kidneys from deceased donors in the UK are donated after cardiac death, but concerns have been raised about the long-term outcome of such transplants. We aimed to establish these outcomes for kidneys donated after controlled cardiac death versus brain death, and to identify the factors that affect graft survival and function.
Methods: We used data from the UK transplant registry to select a cohort of deceased kidney donors and the corresponding transplant recipients (aged ≥18 years) for transplantations done between Jan 1, 2000, and Dec 31, 2007. Kaplan-Meier estimates were used to assess graft survival, and multivariate analyses were used to identify factors associated with graft survival and with long-term renal function, which was measured from estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Findings: 9134 kidney transplants were done in 23 centres; 8289 kidneys were donated after brain death and 845 after controlled cardiac death. First-time recipients of kidneys from cardiac-death donors (n=739) or brain-death donors (n=6759) showed no difference in graft survival up to 5 years (hazard ratio 1·01, 95% CI 0·83 to 1·19, p=0·97), or in eGFR at 1-5 years after transplantation (at 12 months -0·36 mL/min per 1·73 m(2), 95% CI -2·00 to 1·27, p=0·66). For recipients of kidneys from cardiac-death donors, increasing age of donor and recipient, repeat transplantation, and cold ischaemic time of more than 12 h were associated with worse graft survival; grafts from cardiac-death donors that were poorly matched for HLA had an association with inferior outcome that was not significant, and delayed graft function and warm ischaemic time had no effect on outcome.
Interpretation: Kidneys from controlled cardiac-death donors provide good graft survival and function up to 5 years in first-time recipients, and are equivalent to kidneys from brain-death donors. Allocation policy for kidneys from cardiac-death donors should reduce cold ischaemic time, avoid large age mismatches between donors and recipients, and restrict use of kidneys poorly matched for HLA in young recipients.
Funding: UK National Health Service Blood and Transplant, and Cambridge National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre.
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