New York, NY (August 1, 2012) - A new procedure for evaluating potential transplant recipients can significantly reduce the time it takes to be added to the transplant waiting list, according to findings published in the August issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation.
Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine found that a one-day, centralized work-up that coordinates all of the tests and assessments needed for transplant evaluation resulted in patients being placed on the list in an average of 46 days. Those who went through standard, piecemeal evaluations had to wait, on average, 226 days to be added to the list.
"Studies have shown that the longer a kidney patient waits to be placed on the list, the higher the risk of death following a successful transplant," said Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, the lead author on the study and the Director of Kidney & Pancreas Transplantation at Yale University School of Medicine. "By markedly reducing the listing time, we hope to improve patient survival following transplant, increase access to a kidney transplant faster, and decrease dialysis exposure."
Typically, kidney transplant evaluations are coordinated between a patient and their doctor. The evaluation involves numerous tests for potential medical problems, as well as surveys and questions regarding issues such as a patient's financial status and family support network. Kulkarni's team instead used a one-day procedure that was handled in the transplant centers.
"A transplant center’s willingness to adopt the responsibility translates into better access to kidney transplant and potentially could improve patient outcomes," he noted.
The study was conducted at Yale-New Haven Transplant Center between 2004 and 2010. In that time, 378 patients underwent a traditional evaluation, while 527 had the one-day procedure. On average, it took 180 fewer days to be listed if a patient received the one-day evaluation. The one-day workup also had reduced waiting list disparities, which tend to disfavor minority groups and the economically disadvantaged. African Americans and Hispanics who underwent traditional evaluations had to wait, on average, 360 and 357 days to be listed, respectively. With the one-day work-up, listing times were reduced to 55 and 73 days, respectively.
Dr. Kulkarni also noted that reducing the wait time listing would cut down on the number of patients who become ineligible for a transplant while still on the list.
"More than 90,000 Americans are on the waiting list for kidney transplants and we certainly need more donors. But so many who suffer from kidney failure never even have a chance to get on the waiting list.," said Dr. Kerry Willis, National Kidney Foundation Senior Vice President for Scientific and Medical Activities. "Getting patients on the waiting list quickly should save lives, reduce disparities and improve transplant outcomes."
The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.