Kidney transplantation is the preferred treatment for pediatric end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Preemptive transplantation avoids the increased morbidity and mortality of dialysis. Yet, previous studies have not demonstrated significant graft or patient survival benefits for children undergoing transplantation preemptively versus nonpreemptively. These previous studies were limited by small samples sizes and low rates of adverse events. Here we compared graft failure and mortality rates using Kaplan-Meier methods and Cox regression among a large national cohort of children with ESRD undergoing preemptive versus nonpreemptive kidney transplantation between 2000 and 2012. Among 7527 pediatric kidney transplant recipients in the United States Renal Data System, 1668 underwent preemptive transplantation. Over a median 4.8 years follow-up, 1314 experienced graft failure, and over a median 5.2 years of follow-up, 334 died. Dialysis exposure versus preemptive transplantation conferred a higher risk of graft failure (hazard ratio 1.32; 95% confidence interval: 1.10-1.56) and a higher risk of death (hazard ratio 1.69; 95% confidence interval: 1.22-2.33) in multivariable analysis. Compared with children undergoing preemptive transplantation, children on dialysis for >1 year had a 52% higher risk of graft failure and those on dialysis >18 months had an 89% higher risk of death, regardless of donor source. Thus, preemptive transplantation is associated with substantial benefits in allograft and patient survival among children with ESRD, particularly when compared with children who receive dialysis for >1 year. These findings support policies to promote early access to transplantation and avoidance of dialysis for children with ESRD whenever feasible.
Keywords: United States; pediatric kidney transplantation; preemptive.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc.