BACKGROUND: Earlier qualification for the kidney transplant waitlist expedites transplant and is therefore associated with improved outcomes. U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policies state that "measured or calculated creatinine clearance or glomerular filtration rate less than or equal to 20 mL/min" triggers waitlist time accrual. The choice of qualification method is somewhat arbitrary, and the policy implies that decline in renal function is monotonic.
METHODS: (1) We used survival analysis to quantify temporal differences in waitlist qualification by applying 3 kidney-function-estimating equations (Cockcroft-Gault, Modification of Diet in Renal Disease study, Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration) to serial creatinine measurements from 3 patient cohorts: 1 of waitlisted patients at a major U.S. academic center and 2 national, multicenter cohorts of chronic kidney disease patients (African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension, Modification of Diet in Renal Disease). (2) Survival analysis assessed whether requiring patients to demonstrate persistently reduced renal function on 2 occasions at least 90 days apart would meaningfully change qualification order.
RESULTS: On average, time to waitlist qualification would be delayed on the order of 1 to 2 years by using calculated creatinine clearance (per the Cockcroft-Gault equation). Compared with current policy, requiring demonstration of persistently reduced renal function delayed qualification by 0.6 to 2.1 years and caused 40% to 50% of patients to switch the order in which they qualify by 6 months or more.
CONCLUSIONS: The kidney transplantation policies should be revised, such that timing of waitlist qualification is more standardized. We suggest that mention of using calculated creatinine clearance be dropped from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policy wording and the units to quantify kidney function be changed to mL/min per 1.73 m2. Some consideration should be given to whether requiring persistently reduced renal function would better identify patients most likely to benefit from earlier waitlist qualification.
- Kidney transplantation
- Health equity
- Health policy