KIDNEY TRANSPLANTS LAST LONGER NOW
About 10,000 kidney transplants have been done in the
United States so far. How long should a donated kidney,
cadaveric or from live donor, last?
In 1998, the best average, from a living related donor,
was 17 years, according to government statistics. The
typical cadaveric kidney, from a dead donor, lasted about 11
years. But a study, led by Dr. Sundaram Hariharan, at
Medical College of Wisconsin, has found major improvement
where it matters, in "graft survival," the amount of time
the new organ works in the recipient's body.
This study, published February in the New England
Journal of Medicine, states that a kidney transplant, from a
living related donor, that once might last 17 years, has
more than doubled its "life expectancy," to 36 years. A
similar transplant, but from a cadaveric donor, now lasts an
average of 20 years.
What has changed? Once the surgical techniques of
transplantation were mastered, the biggest problem has been
rejection, the body's attempt to destroy invading tissues.
"Anti‑rejection drugs," necessary to keep the organ alive in
the face of the body's attempt to reject it as "foreign,"
have been coarse, powerful, and fraught with side effects.
But they are getting better, and as they do, transplants
Over all, the results "show a continuous trend toward
improved long‑term graft survival in recent years," the
researchers said; and, "The survival rate for someone who
receives a transplant today is probably even better."