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Pre-emptive Kidney Transplantation to Improve Survival in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes and Imminent Risk of ESRD

      Summary

      Despite significant improvements in the treatment of diabetic nephropathy over the past 20 years, patients with type 1 diabetes are at high risk of developing end-stage renal disease and high mortality once end-stage renal disease develops. Type 1 diabetic patients treated with predialysis (pre-emptive) transplantation have a lower death rate than type 1 diabetic patients treated with dialysis. Living donor kidney transplantation is possible before starting dialysis and is associated with better kidney and patient outcomes as compared with transplantation while on dialysis. In addition, a variety of potential donors can be used, not just young, well-matched family members. Through paired kidney donation, blood group ABO-incompatible transplants and transplants across the barrier of anti-human leukocyte antigen antibodies, diabetic patients can receive living donor kidney transplants even if their intended donor is not a good match for them. Despite these expanded options making living donation possible, only a minority of type 1 diabetic patients receive a pre-emptive kidney transplant. Multiple barriers remain that prevent type 1 diabetic patients from enjoying the reduced risk of death afforded by a pre-emptive kidney transplant, including lack of knowledge by primary care physicians, endocrinologists, and nephrologists; late referral for transplantation; patient and family misconceptions about timing of transplantation; and who can be a donor. The vast majority of type 1 diabetic patients are listed for kidney transplantation after the initiation of dialysis. Of these patients, thousands subsequently receive a live donor kidney transplant. We believe that the appropriate agencies and societies should address the barriers to pre-emptive kidney transplantation through nationwide educational initiatives and study the causes of failure to be transplanted before dialysis initiation.

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