—As told to Lisa Murtha
E. Steve Woodle, M.D., Transplant Surgeon, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
A major reason why patients want to have kidney transplants is so they’ll live longer. The more time you spend with a transplant versus the time you spend on dialysis, the better your survival chances will be.
There were more than 17,000 kidney transplants in the United States in 2015. Here in Cincinnati there are between 150 to 200 yearly; at UC we perform about 100 a year. They’re the most commonly performed solid organ transplant, probably because there are far more living-donor kidney transplants than there are living-donor transplants of other organs.
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) has been contracted by the federal government to analyze data on transplants in the United States. The other thing the SRTR does is it has computer-based models that predict what your results should be in your program. They collect data dating back about 30 years on kidney transplants. They predict what our transplant rates are and should be.
We were higher than predicted on the transplant rate, and that’s important. It means for patients considering a kidney transplant, they will get transplanted here faster than any place else in Ohio—faster than a lot of programs in the United States. Our transplant rate was about 38 percent per year; for every 100 patients who wait one year, 38 of them will be transplanted. It’s statistically significantly higher than the model would have predicted for us.
The transplant rate data is based on how willing you are to accept a deceased donor kidney from an individual donor and how dedicated your program is to performing living donor kidney transplants. Combine those two, and it gives you a number for waiting time for transplant rates. The waiting time is [from] the time patients were listed as available to receive a kidney until [the time] they were transplanted. If you’ve got a living donor, you’re put on the wait list usually a week or two before you’re transplanted. For a deceased donor, that could be a year, two years or more.
An important thing for patients is to get transplanted quickly. I’ve had a liver transplant myself, 14 years ago; I understand what it means to be sick and on a waiting list. At UC Health we have a supportive environment with dedicated individuals and good medical care. Those all combine to give patients excellent results.