In March 2021, the United States implemented a new kidney allocation system (KAS250) for deceased donor kidney transplantation (DDKT), which eliminated the donation service area-based allocation and replaced it with a system on the basis of distance from donor hospital to transplant center within/outside a radius of 250 nautical miles. The effect of this policy on kidney discards and logistics is unknown.
We examined discards, donor-recipient characteristics, cold ischemia time (CIT), and delayed graft function (DGF) during the first 9 months of KAS250 compared with a pre-KAS250 cohort from the preceding 2 years. Changes in discards and CIT after the onset of COVID-19 and the implementation of KAS250 were evaluated using an interrupted time-series model. Changes in allocation practices (biopsy, machine perfusion, and virtual cross-match) were also evaluated.
Post-KAS250 saw a two-fold increase in kidneys imported from nonlocal organ procurement organizations (OPO) and a higher proportion of recipients with calculated panel reactive antibody (cPRA) 81%–98% (12% versus 8%; P<0.001) and those with >5 years of pretransplant dialysis (35% versus 33%; P<0.001). CIT increased (mean 2 hours), including among local OPO kidneys. DGF was similar on adjusted analysis. Discards after KAS250 did not immediately change, but we observed a statistically significant increase over time that was independent of donor quality. Machine perfusion use decreased, whereas reliance on virtual cross-match increased, which was associated with shorter CIT.
Early trends after KAS250 show an increase in transplant access to patients with cPRA>80% and those with longer dialysis duration, but this was accompanied by an increase in CIT and a suggestion of worsening kidney discards.