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Kidney Int. 2000 Jan;57(1):307-13.

Long-term survival in renal transplant recipients with graft function.

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Departments of Medicine, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0364, USA.


Long-term survival in renal transplant recipients with graft function.


Death with graft function (DWGF) is a common cause of graft loss. The risks and determinants of DWGF have not been studied in a recent cohort of renal transplant recipients. We performed a population-based survival analysis of U.S. patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) transplanted between 1988 and 1997.


Registry data were used to evaluate long-term patient survival and cause-specific risks of DWGF in 86,502 adult (>/=18 years) renal transplant recipients.


Out of 18,482 deaths, 38% (N = 7040) were deaths with graft function. This accounts for 42. 5% of all graft loss. Patient survival with graft function was 97, 91, and 86% at 1, 5, and 10 years, respectively. The risk of DWGF decreased by 67% (RR = 0.33, P < 0.001) between 1988 and 1997. The adjusted rate of DWGF was 4.6, 0.8, 2.2, and 1.4 deaths per 1000 person-years for cardiovascular disease, stroke, infections, and malignancy, respectively. The suicide rate was 15.7 versus 9.0 deaths per 100,000 person-years in the general population (P < 0. 001). In multivariate analysis, the following factors were independently and significantly predictive of DWGF: white recipient, age at transplantation, ESRD caused by hypertension or diabetes mellitus, length of pretransplant dialysis, delayed graft function, acute rejection, panel reactive antibody> 30%, African American donor race, age> 45 years, and donor death caused by cerebrovascular disease.


Patients with graft function have a high long-term survival. Although DWGF is a major cause of graft loss, the risk has declined substantially since 1990. Cardiovascular disease was the predominant reported cause of DWGF. Other causes vary by post-transplant time period. Attention to atherosclerotic risk factors may be the most important challenge to further improve the longevity of patients with successful renal transplants.

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