Kidney diseases are a global problem and more than 850 million people suffer from some kind of kidney disease, which makes it into one of the most common diseases. End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) implies that the kidney seizes to function and over 2 million patients suffer from the disease globally. Kidney transplant is the best treatment for patients that suffer from ESRD and leads to a higher quality of life for the patient. The alternative is dialysis which is performed at a hospital approximately 3 times per week or peritonial dialysis which is performed on a daily basis at home. Kidney transplant implies that a kidney is transplanted into a patient that suffers from ESRD. The doner of a kidney can either be alive or disease.
Before a patient can receive a transplanted kidney, the patient must undergo a medical review in order to determine whether the patient is sufficiently healthy to undergo an operation. If the patient passes the criteria, the patient will be placed on a waiting list, but it is important to note that it is only a limited share of patients that finally receive a transplanted kidney. Patients may need to wait for several years before a matching doner is located. In the US, the average waiting time is 3-5 years. More than 65,000 kidneys were transplanted in 2021 but similar to other organs, demand vastly exceeds the supply of available organs. Approximately 60-70% of transplanted organs come from deceased doners and these kidneys are heavily impacted by ischemia which leads to worse health outcomes for the patient.
Patients that suffer from ESRD and receive a transplanted kidney have a longer expected lifetime and higher life quality than patients that must undergo dialysis. The average patient that has received a transplanted kidney will live 10-15 years longer compared to a patient that receives dialysis. There are strong economic reasons for increasing the number of kidney transplants. The alternative to kidney transplants is dialysis treatment which over time is coupled with large costs. The potential cost savings with transplants are significant and the patient also receives a significantly higher quality of life.