Kidney Transplantation in Low- to Middle-Income Countries: Outcomes and Lessons Learned from Armenia
Sergey Babloyan, Milena Voskanyan, Shant Shekherdimian, Helen Nazaryan, Sahak Arakelyan, Khachatur Kurkchyan, Poghos Geyikyan, Ara Babloyan, Ashot Sarkissian
Department of Pediatric Surgery and Urology, Arabkir Medical Center – Institute of Child and Adolescent Health, Yerevan, Armenia
Ann Transplant 2021; 26:e930943
Available online: 2021-08-03
Treatment of end-stage renal disease constitutes a heavy financial burden, especially in developing countries. Maintaining a kidney transplantation program is an extremely complex task in countries with limited resources. It often requires expertise and support from developed countries. Living donor kidney transplantations (LDKT) have been performed regularly in the Republic of Armenia since 2002. The purpose of this article is to review the history and outcomes of kidney transplantation in Armenia.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A chart review was performed retrospectively on all patients who had undergone LDKT in Armenia. The key personnel involved in the development and operation of the unique kidney transplant program in the country were interviewed for a comprehensive review of the history and challenges of transplantation.
RESULTS: There were 172 LDKT (4 re-transplantations) performed between 2002 and 2019. The mean age of recipients was 35.9±13.4 years (range 7.1-65.7): 116 (67.4%) were male and 12 (6.9%) were children (<18 years). Seventy-four patients (43%) had peri- (n=5) and postoperative (n=69), mostly mild, surgical complications. Delayed graft function occurred in 17 (9.9%) patients, requiring hemodialysis in 16, and 6 patients stayed HD-dependant. Sixty-nine patients (40.1%) had at least 1 episode of acute rejection, with 26 (15.1%) having more than 1. Late complications were mostly infectious (n=49) or malignant processes (n=13).
Follow-up studies showed that out of 172 patients, 126 had functioning grafts, 17 died with functioning grafts, 3 were lost to follow-up, and 26 lost grafts. Graft survival at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years, non-censored for death, after LDKT was 96.4% (CI 93.6-99.2), 93.7% (CI 89.9-97.5), 90.5% (CI 85.7-95.3), and 75.3% (CI 66.9-83.7), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study suggest that a renal transplant program with acceptable outcomes can be successfully introduced in countries with limited resources.
Keywords: Armenia, Kidney Transplantation, Living Donors, Postoperative Complications