Solid organ transplantation was introduced into the armamentarium of
medical treatments with the first kidney transplant performed 40 years ago.
Since the historic success of kidney transplantation in identical twins, it
has been possible to take advantage of a succession of increasingly effective
immunosuppressive maintenance agents so that organs from nonidentical relatives,
living unrelated individuals, and cadaver donors can be used with excellent
results. Although patients with end-stage kidney failure have the option of
long-term hemodialysis or transplantation, those with progressive heart, liver,
or lung failure will die unless they receive a transplant. Even though dialysis
is available for patients with renal failure, the mortality rates for patients
who remain on dialysis is 30% to 40% higher than that of comparable patients
who receive kidney transplants.1,2
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