Infants make up the most high-risk, difficult to care for subgroup undergoing kidney transplantation, with the lowest 1- and 2-year graft survival rates of any other age group. The principal causes of graft loss have been graft thrombosis, primary nonfunction, technical error, and irreversible acute rejection.
Infants undergoing kidney transplantation can achieve near 100% graft survival at 2 years following surgery, despite their very high-risk status.
Analysis of 45 consecutive kidney transplants performed in patients weighing less than or equal to 15 kg during an 8-year period beginning August 1991. Patients included complex referrals from throughout the United States and all received transplants and were cared for by the same pediatric kidney transplantation team.
Mean weight at transplantation was 11.2 kg. Renal failure was due to congenital or urologic causes in the majority (53%) of cases. Size-discrepant adult-sized kidney grafts were transplanted in 80% of patients; 64% received live-donor grafts; 78% were receiving dialysis prior to transplantation; and 27% had extremely small bladders (<20 cm3) requiring modification of the ureteral implantation. Excluding 1 transplant-unrelated death, graft and patient survival at 2 years was 100%. Eight-year patient and graft survival rates (for our combined live and cadaver donor series) were 89.6% and 84.6%, respectively. This compares favorably with much lower graft survival in low-risk adult recipients. Delayed graft function occurred in only 1 patient (2%). Rate of incidence of rejection was 9.3% within 2 years of transplantation and the overall rejection rate was 15.5%. No graft was lost to vascular thrombosis, primary nonfunction, technical error, or acute rejection. The mean creatinine level was 53.04 µmol/L (0.6 mg/dL) and 61.9 µmol/L (0.7 mg/dL) at 1 and 2 years, respectively, and 88.4 µmol/L (1.0 mg/dL) at 3, 4, and 5 years after transplantation.
One hundred percent 2-year and excellent 8-year graft survival rates can be achieved in what has historically been the highest-risk and most difficult to care for patient subgroup undergoing kidney transplantation.