Patients with High Priority for Kidney Transplant Who Are Not Given Expedited Placement on the Transplant Waiting List Represent Lost Opportunities

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Jun 17;32(7):1733-1746. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2020081146. Online ahead of print.


Background: Kidney transplantation is associated with the best outcomes for most patients with ESKD. The national Kidney Allocation System prioritizes patients with Estimated Post-Transplant Survival (EPTS) scores in the top 20% for expedited access to optimal deceased donor kidneys.

Methods: We studied adults aged ≥18 years in the United States Renal Data System with top 20% EPTS scores who had been preemptively waitlisted or initiated dialysis in 2015-2017. We evaluated time to waitlist placement, transplantation, and mortality with unadjusted and multivariable survival models.

Results: Of 42,445 patients with top 20% EPTS scores (mean age, 38.0 years; 57% male; 59% White patients, and 31% Black patients), 7922 were preemptively waitlisted. Among 34,523 patients initiating dialysis, the 3-year cumulative waitlist placement incidence was 37%. Numerous factors independently associated with waitlisting included race, income, and having noncommercial insurance. For example, waitlisting was less likely for Black versus White patients, and for patients in the lowest-income neighborhoods versus those in the highest-income neighborhoods. Among patients initiating dialysis, 61% lost their top 20% EPTS status within 30 months versus 18% of patients who were preemptively listed. The 3-year incidence of deceased and living donor transplantation was 5% and 6%, respectively, for patients who initiated dialysis and 26% and 44%, respectively, for patients who were preemptively listed.

Conclusions: Many patients with ESKDqualifying with top 20% EPTS status are not placed on the transplant waiting list in a timely manner, with significant variation on the basis of demographic and social factors. Patients who are preemptively listed are more likely to receive benefits of top 20% EPTS status. Efforts to expedite care for qualifying candidates are needed, and automated transplant referral for patients with the best prognoses should be considered.

Keywords: epidemiology and outcomes; kidney transplantation; transplantation.