• Kidney transplants from deceased donors function for a median of 10 to 15 years. New research indicates that when a kidney transplant fails, retransplantation may offer better survival patients compared with undergoing dialysis.
  • The magnitude of benefit diminishes if a patient must wait a long time for a second transplant.

Newswise — Washington, DC (December 27, 2021) — Kidney transplantation is the preferred therapy after kidney failure, but kidneys transplanted from deceased donors often do not last for the rest of a recipient’s life. Because of the scarcity of donor organs and the immunological sensitization of transplant recipients, it’s unclear whether patients whose transplanted kidneys are no longer functioning should receive second transplants, or whether they should be treated with dialysis. A study published in CJASN compares these options.

For the study, a team led by Rainer Oberbauer, MD (Medical University of Vienna, in Austria) analyzed data pertaining to 2,346 adults with a failed first kidney transplant who were waitlisted for a second kidney transplant in Austria during 1980–2019.

At a 10-year follow-up point, patients who received a second kidney transplant had a longer average survival time compared with those who underwent dialysis while remaining on the transplant waitlist. Specifically, patients who underwent retransplantation lived for an average of 5.8 months longer. The difference in survival time with retransplantation was lower in patients who had a longer wait time after their first transplant failed, however. At the 10-year follow-up point, patients who underwent retransplantation lived for an average of 8.0 and 0.1 months of additional life for patients with a waiting time of less than 1 year and 8 years, respectively.

“Our data showed that a second transplantation is advantageous regarding gained life years; however, the difference to non-transplanted patients decreases with time on the waiting list,” said Dr. Oberbauer. “Nevertheless, patients might have a higher quality of life when transplanted and therefore should get a second transplant if a suitable donor organ is available.” Dr. Oberbauer stressed that patients with a failed first kidney transplant should be waitlisted immediately if they are fit to undergo a second transplantation.

An accompanying editorial notes that “if these results are reproduced in imitated trials from other countries, it would signify the importance of decreasing time on the waiting list for second kidney transplant candidates by measures such as expedited work-up and enlistment of patients with failing first kidney transplants before they require dialysis.”

Study authors include Alexander Kainz, PhD, Michael Kammer, PhD, Roman Reindl-Schwaighofer, MD, Susanne Strohmaier, PhD, VojtÄ›ch Petr, MD, Ondrej Viklicky, MD, Daniel Abramowicz, MD, Marcel Naik, MD, Gert Mayer, MD, and Rainer Oberbauer, MD.

Disclosures: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures. 

The article, titled “Waiting Time for Second Kidney Transplantation and Mortality,” will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 27, 2021, doi: 10.2215/CJN.07620621.

The editorial, titled “Waitlist Mortality for Second Kidney Transplants,” will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on December 27, 2021, doi: 10.2215/CJN.15021121.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

 Since 1966, ASN has been leading the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases throughout the world by educating health professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge, and advocating for the highest quality care for patients. ASN has more than 21,000 members representing 131 countries. For more information, visit www.asn-online.org.


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CJASN doi: 10.2215/CJN.07620621