Successful renal transplantation is the optimal treatment for chronic kidney failure, but this was not always so for children. Beginning with the first kidney transplants in the 1950s, children experienced poorer patient and graft survival rates than adult patients. But over the last 6 decades, an improved understanding of the immune system which has steered pediatric multi-center clinical/pharmacokinetic and mechanistic studies that have sculpted our immunosuppression with markedly better patient and graft survivals. In addition, uniquely pediatric issues related to growth, development, neurocognitive maturation, increased complications from primary viral infections, and comorbid congenital/inherited disorders, are now diagnosed and effectively managed in these children. Refined pretransplant preparation (vaccinations for preventable diseases, attention to cognitive delays, effective dialysis and nutrition) improved donor selection, and more potent immunosuppression have all contributed to enhanced outcomes. Similarly, improvements in pediatric surgical techniques, postoperative care and better antiviral prophylaxis have all shortened hospitalizations and reduced morbidity. Today pediatric kidney transplant outcomes are markedly improved and younger children today experience better long-term graft survival than adults! While difficult problems remain, we have made tremendous progress and anticipate even more advances in the future of pediatric kidney transplantation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health