ASTS NewsBrief
Dec. 30, 2013

OPTN/UNOS Board approves significant revisions to deceased donor kidney allocation policy
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
From July 1: The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, meeting June 24 and 25, approved substantial amendments to OPTN policy for deceased donor kidney allocation. The policy will maintain access to kidney transplantation for all groups of candidates while seeking to improve outcomes for kidney transplant recipients, increase the years recipients may have a functioning transplant and increase utilization of available kidneys. The implementation date of the policy was not immediately established but is expected to occur in 2014.More

Obese patients urged to lose weight before kidney transplant
HealthDay News via U.S. News & World Report
From Jan. 28: Obese people who receive kidney transplants appear to be at increased risk for problems such as wound infections, transplant failure and heart disease during their recovery, researchers have found. Obese kidney transplant patients also have higher health care costs than non-obese patients, the Saint Louis University researchers said.More

Study: Competition affects who gets a liver transplant
From Jan. 14: More competition between medical centers that perform liver transplants may mean sicker patients get lower-quality donor organs, according to a U.S. study. When more than one center has patients on the same donor list, the centers have an incentive to get organs for as many of their own patients as possible, wrote researchers, whose report appeared in Liver Transplantation.More

Widely prescribed statin could help organ transplant patients
Scientific American
From Oct. 21: A trawl of existing data has identified drugs that seem to stall organ rejection in patients who have undergone transplants. By crunching through large, publicly available data sets, researchers pinpointed a suite of genes involved in organ rejection. They were then able to identify drugs that affect the activity of these genes—with candidates including a widely prescribed statin, a class of drug used to lower blood-cholesterol levels. A subsequent analysis of thousands of medical records indicated that statins do in fact help transplant patients.More

Test could warn of problems for kidney transplant recipients
From Sept. 9: A simple test might reveal whether a kidney transplant recipient is at imminent risk of organ rejection. A study finds that the test, which checks urine levels of an immune protein, might lessen the need for kidney biopsies in some patients and pinpoint others who might safely reduce their dose of immune-suppressing drugs.More

Rat kidneys made in lab point to aid for humans
The New York Times
From April 22: Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have made functioning rat kidneys in the laboratory, a bioengineering achievement that may one day lead to the ability to create replacement organs for people with kidney disease. The kidneys were made by stripping donor kidneys of their cells and putting new cells that regenerate tissue into them.More

Living donor size affects kidney transplant outcomes
Renal & Urology News
From June 3: Small donor size has an adverse impact on allograft function following living kidney donor transplantation, researchers reported at the 2013 American Transplant Congress. Dr. Hasan Khamash and colleagues at Mayo Clinic Arizona in Phoenix retrospectively studied 579 pairs of living kidney donors and recipients who had their estimated glomerular filtration rate ascertained at one year posttransplant.More

Hospitals reassess the age factor in evaluating candidates for kidney transplants
The Washington Post
From Feb. 11: Robert Brown was healthy, willing and a good match: So why not give a kidney to his wife, who otherwise would need dialysis? There was just one potential obstacle: Brown was 74, an age once unthinkable for a kidney donor. For this retired psychologist from Columbia, that wasn't an issue. "I didn't think about the age thing, not at all," Brown said about his decision two years ago to offer a kidney to his wife, Sue. She was 71 at the time and ill with Fabry disease, a rare genetic disorder that can lead to a harmful buildup of fat in the kidneys.More

Duration beyond liver transplant improved patients' tolerance to immunosuppression cessation
From April 8: Liver transplant recipients are more likely to tolerate withdrawal from immunosuppressant therapy if cessation is initiated well after transplantation, according to recent study results. Researchers gradually discontinued immunosuppressive drug therapy during a 6- to 9-month period in 102 stable liver transplant recipients. All participants had undergone transplantation more than 3 years earlier and had no history of autoimmune liver disease.More

Health-related quality of life in kidney donors from the last 5 decades
American Journal of Transplantation
From Nov. 4: Live donation benefits recipients, but the long-term consequences for donors remain uncertain. Renal and Lung Living Donors Evaluation Study surveyed kidney donors (N = 2455; 61 percent women; mean age 58, aged 24–94; mean time from donation 17 years, range 5–48 years) using the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36). The 95 percent confidence intervals for White and African-American donors included or exceeded SF-36 norms.More