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Member Research and Reports

Columbia Research Shows Kidneys from Deceased Donors More Likely to be Discarded Over the Weekend Compared to Weekdays

A deceased donor kidney procured on Friday or Saturday was 20 percent more likely to be discarded than if it became available on other days. This could result in lost opportunities for some transplant candidates, according to a study by Dr. Sumit Mohan, Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology and a kidney expert. Dr. Mohan presented his findings this month at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting held in San Diego.

“We are discarding almost one in five kidneys in the United States,” said Dr. Mohan, who is also an assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

The researchers used data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients to compare the use of deceased donor kidneys obtained on weekends versus those on weekdays. The overwhelming majority of kidneys transplanted over the weekend are recovered on Friday and Saturday. Kidneys are less likely to be recovered on these days compared to the rest of the week (89.5 vs 90.2 percent respectively) and the kidneys that are recovered for transplant are almost 20 percent more likely to be discarded – even after adjusting for the quality of the organ. Interestingly, Dr. Mohan and colleagues also found that kidneys not used over the weekend were of higher quality than those procured during the rest of the week.

Dr. Mohan said this may be a result of the “weekend effect” when hospitals tend to operate with less staff and emergencies take precedence. He makes the point that weekend waste could be reduced if transplant centers were able to place themselves on a bypass list when staffing numbers are lower. This way, a donor kidney could be forwarded to a center that is ready to use it.