Object: Examination of nephrology practice variations in living donor renal grafts to determine their influence on organ supply, quality, and cost of chronic renal failure therapy.
Materials: Saskatchewan chronic dialysis, cadaveric, and living donor renal grafts in 1983-1994 inclusive.
Results: Saskatchewan has three dialysis (I, II, III) and one transplant clinic. In the period the renal graft incidences/million population by these dialysis clinics by organ source were; Cadaveric: 23.1, 23.2, 21.1 (p = ns). Living: 5.4, 21.7, 8.3 (I or III vs II p < 0.000, I vs III p < 0.061). Total: 28.7, 44.7, 29.4. Living donor series A is 79 grafts in patients under age 60 with primary renal disease. Series B is 20 grafts in patients with secondary renal disease or over age 59. Series A ten-year actuarial patient survival is 92% and B 44%. Series A ten-year actuarial graft survival (including regrafts) is 77% and B 39%. Rehabilitation rate in patients with functioning grafts is 88.5%. Province-wide extension of the Clinic II living-donor graft rate in 1983-1994 would have produced 160 more renal grafts or 59% of those receiving chronic dialysis in 1994. The annual maintenance for a graft with the initial grafting cost taken over five years was $10,825 and the dialysis cost $40,100.
Conclusions: (1) nephrology practice variations caused a 2.5-4.0-fold difference in living donor renal graft rates, indicating patient education by the attending nephrologist influences the living donor transplantation rate, (2) with such education the combined living donor and the cadaveric organ supply virtually meets graft demand, (3) living donor renal grafts yield a better quantity and quality of life and better cost control than dialysis with their annual cost being one-quarter that for dialysis.