Kidney and bladder health

08 March 2017

More than 90% of kids surviving kidney transplants

Previously children with end-stage kidney disease had poor survival rates after transplant. There has however been great progress and now the patient survival rate is almost 100%.

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According to Continuing Medical Education (CME), South Africa has one of the highest incidences of renal failure in Africa and thousands of patients are awaiting transplantation. Despite all the challenges transplantation is more cost-effective and provides a much better quality of life for these patients than dialysis.

Survival rates for children who get kidney transplants have improved significantly over the last half-century, a new study finds.

"The outlook for infants and children with end-stage kidney disease was once dismal, with poor survival rates after transplant. There has been great progress in paediatric kidney transplantation, and now the patient survival rate is almost 100%," said the study's principal investigator, Dr Srinath Chinnakotla.

Chinnakotla is an associate professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, where the study was done.

97% success rate

Since 2002, 97% of children who had kidney transplants at the hospital were alive a year later. That compares to 85% 40 to 50 years ago, the study showed.

Long-term outcomes have also improved. Only 42% of kids who got a new kidney between 1963 and 1983 still had a functioning transplant 10 years later. That compares to 58% who had transplants between 1984 and 2001, and 70% since then, the researchers found.

The study was recently published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Under 10s have best survival rate

"Thanks to advances in immunosuppressive [anti-rejection] medications including steroid-free drugs, better surgical technique, and improved management of infections after kidney transplant, children ages 10 years and younger now have the best long-term graft survival of all ages," Chinnakotla said.

Kidney transplant is far less common in infants and children than in adults, he noted. Fewer than 720 of the nearly 18 600 kidney transplants performed in the United States in 2015 were in patients under age 18, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network.

Organ donating in SA

There are no current statistics, but 2008  figures from the Organ Donor Foundation show that there were over 3 500 South Africans waiting for organ and tissue transplants in that year, and as a result of this critical shortage less than 1 000 of them would have received a transplant in 2009.

To become an organ donor, you can simply phone the Organ Donor Foundation's toll free number on 0800 22 6611 or register online at www.odf.org.za.

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