Comparison of mortality risk for dialysis patients and cadaveric first renal transplant recipients in Ontario, Canada

C G Rabbat, K E Thorpe, J D Russell, D N Churchill
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: JASN 2000, 11 (5): 917-22
In population-based studies, renal transplantation has been shown to improve survival compared to dialysis patients awaiting transplantation in the United States. However, dialysis mortality in the United States is higher than in Canada. Whether transplantation offers a survival advantage in regions where dialysis survival is superior to that in the United States is uncertain. This study examines a cohort of 1156 patients who started end-stage renal disease (ESRD) therapy and were wait-listed for cadaveric renal transplantation in the province of Ontario, Canada between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994. Patients were followed from wait-listing for renal transplant (n = 1156), to cadaveric first renal transplant (n = 722), to death, or to study end (December 31, 1995). The annual crude mortality rates for wait-listed dialysis patients and transplanted patients were 5.0 and 3.4%, respectively. In Cox proportional hazards models, mortality in wait-listed patients was associated with increased age and diabetes, but not time from onset of ESRD to wait-listing. Factors associated with death following transplantation include older age, diabetes, and longer time spent on the waiting list before transplantation. In a time-dependent Cox regression model, the relative risk of death after transplantation compared to dialysis varied in a time-dependent manner. Covariates associated with increased risk included older age, diabetes, and time from onset of ESRD to wait-listing. The average relative risk (RR) of dying was 2.91 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.34 to 6.32) in the first 30 d after transplantation, but was significantly lower 1 yr after transplantation (RR 0.25; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.42), indicating a beneficial long-term effect when compared to wait-listed dialysis patients. This long-term benefit was most evident in subgroups of patients with diabetes (RR 0.38; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.87) and glomerulonephritis (RR 0.13; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.39) as the cause of ESRD. The survival advantage associated with renal transplantation is evident in this cohort of patients with a lower wait-listed dialysis mortality than that reported previously in the United States. The magnitude of the treatment effect is consistent across studies.

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