In fact, 16.5 percent of all non-kidney transplant recipients develop chronic kidney failure, and almost a third of those patients go on to develop full-blown end-stage renal disease, according to new data published in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers from the University of Michigan Health System.
And those whose kidneys begin to fail after their transplant face a much larger risk of dying than those whose kidneys stay healthy, the study finds. Only a second transplant -- to put in a new kidney -- mitigates the fatal consequences of ESRD.
The researchers weren't able to pinpoint the exact causes of the kidney failure seen in the study of 69,321 people who received transplants of any solid organ except kidney or pancreas between 1990 and 2000. But in the largest-ever study of its kind, they identified several factors that put patients at a higher risk of kidney failure and death: older age; being a woman; pre-transplant hepatitis C infection, high blood pressure or diabetes; and kidney problems before or immediately after transplant.
They also know that some kidney damage is caused by the very drugs that all transplant recipients take to prevent their bodies from rejecting their new organs.
"Every doctor involved in transplant sees these patients come through clinic, but there has never been a detailed attempt to quantify the issue," says Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., Ph.D., the associate professor of nephrology at the U-M Medical School who led the study. "We can see now how large the problem is, what the risk factors are, and what the implications and costs might be for the dialysis and transplant systems. We can also see that damage ca
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System