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    Original Investigation
    January 8, 2020

    Association of Deceased Donor Acute Kidney Injury With Recipient Graft Survival

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    • 2Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City
    • 3Program of Applied Translational Research, Section of Nephrology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
    JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1918634. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.18634
    Key Points español 中文 (chinese)

    Question  Is deceased donor acute kidney injury (AKI) associated with recipient graft survival after matching on deceased donor AKI propensity?

    Findings  In this registry-based, propensity scorematched cohort study of deceased donors with and without AKI, deceased donor AKI had no independent association with short-term and long-term recipient graft survival. Recovery and transplantation of AKI kidneys varied by organ procurement organization; most (39 of 58) had high recovery and high discard of AKI kidneys.

    Meaning  This study’s findings suggest that the transplant community should continue to use deceased donor AKI kidneys and consider research to investigate whether currently discarded AKI kidneys can be used more effectively.


    Importance  The shortage of deceased donor kidneys for transplants is an ongoing concern. Prior studies support transplanting kidneys from deceased donors with acute kidney injury (AKI), but those investigations have been subject to selection bias and small sample sizes. Current allocation practices of AKI kidneys in the United States are not well characterized.

    Objectives  To evaluate the association of deceased donor AKI with recipient graft survival and to characterize recovery and discard practices for AKI kidneys by organ procurement organizations.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  Registry-based, propensity scorematched cohort study from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2013, in the United States. The dates of analysis were March 1 to November 1, 2019. From 2010 to 2013, a total of 6832 deceased donors with AKI and 15 310 deceased donors without AKI had at least 1 kidney transplanted. This study used a 1:1, propensity scorematched analysis to match deceased donors with AKI to deceased donors without AKI and investigated outcomes in their corresponding kidney recipients.

    Exposure  Deceased donor AKI, defined as at least 50% or 0.3-mg/dL increase in terminal serum creatinine level from admission.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  Recipients were assessed for the time to death-censored graft failure and the following secondary outcomes: delayed graft function, primary nonfunction, and the time to all-cause graft failure.

    Results  Ninety-eight percent (6722 of 6832) of deceased donors with AKI were matched to deceased donors without AKI. The mean (SD) age of the 13 444 deceased donors was 40.4 (14.4) years, and 63% (8529 of 13 444) were male. A total of 25 323 recipients were analyzed (15 485 [61%] were male), and their mean (SD) age was 52.0 (14.7) years. Recipients were followed up for a median of 5 (interquartile range, 4-6) years. Deceased donor AKI status had no association with death-censored graft failure (hazard ratio, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.95-1.08) or all-cause graft failure (hazard ratio, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.93-1.02). The results were consistent after examining by AKI stage and adjusting for recipient and transplant characteristics. More recipients of AKI kidneys developed delayed graft function (29% vs 22%, P < .001). Few recipients (120 of 25 323 [0.5%]) developed primary nonfunction regardless of deceased donor AKI status. Recovery and transplantation of AKI kidneys varied by organ procurement organization; most (39 of 58) had high recovery and high discard of AKI kidneys.

    Conclusions and Relevance  Deceased donor AKI kidneys transplanted in the study period had recipient graft survival comparable to that of non-AKI kidneys. This study’s findings suggest that the transplant community should evaluate whether currently discarded AKI kidneys from donors without substantial comorbidities can be used more effectively.