Death with a functioning kidney graft (DWFG) is now a major cause of graft loss after renal transplantation, occurring in up to 40% of cases. Its occurrence provides insight into the medical care of subjects with a functioning kidney transplant. In this study, we used the time to DWFG as an endpoint, to test whether improved medical care has contributed to better kidney transplant outcomes.
We used single-center data from the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Froedtert Hospital, on kidney-only transplants from 1969 through 2005. A total of 3,157 kidney transplants were done at our center during this time. There were 714 deaths with functioning kidney. We also recorded the major causes of DWFG over the time period from 1969 through 2005 divided into 3 epochs. The data were analyzed as a serial collection of yearly obituaries.
The time to DWFG has increased to 10 years despite a 20-year increase in the mean age of transplant recipients over the same time period.
Better pre-transplant evaluation, improved treatments for hypertension and hyperlipidemia, improved management of acute myocardial infarction, superior immunosuppressive protocols and better prophylaxis and treatment of infectious diseases have all likely contributed to this trend.