Geographic disparities in access to deceased donor kidney transplantation persist in the United States under the Kidney Allocation System (KAS) introduced in 2014, and the effect of transplant center practices on the probability of transplantation for wait-listed patients remains unclear.
To compare probability of transplantation across centers nationally and within donation service areas (DSAs), we conducted a registry study that included all United States incident adult kidney transplant candidates wait listed in 2011 and 2015 (pre-KAS and post-KAS cohorts comprising 32,745 and 34,728 individuals, respectively). For each center, we calculated the probability of deceased donor kidney transplantation within 3 years of wait listing using competing risk regression, with living donor transplantation, death, and waiting list removal as competing events. We examined associations between center-level and DSA-level characteristics and the adjusted probability of transplant.
Candidates received deceased donor kidney transplants within 3 years of wait listing more frequently post-KAS (22%) than pre-KAS (19%). Nationally, the probability of transplant varied 16-fold between centers, ranging from 4.0% to 64.2% in the post-KAS era. Within DSAs, we observed a median 2.3-fold variation between centers, with up to ten-fold and 57.4 percentage point differences. Probability of transplantation was correlated in the post-KAS cohort with center willingness to accept hard-to-place kidneys (r=0.55, P<0.001) and local organ supply (r=0.44, P<0.001).
Large differences in the adjusted probability of deceased donor kidney transplantation persist under KAS, even between centers working with the same local organ supply. Probability of transplantation is significantly associated with organ offer acceptance patterns at transplant centers, underscoring the need for greater understanding of how centers make decisions about organs offered to wait-listed patients and how they relate to disparities in access to transplantation.