Kidney Transplantation remains your definitive medical resource for state of the art answers on every aspect of renal transplantation
Kidney Transplantation is now an accepted treatment of patients in end-stage renal failure. A successful transplant restores not merely life but an acceptable quality of life to such patients. The number of patients in end-stage renal failure in the Western World who might be treated by hemodialysis and transplantation is considerable and comprises some 30-50 new patients/million of population. Unfortunately in most, if not all, countries the supply of kidneys for transplantation is insufficient to meet the demand. Furthermore, hemodialysis facilities are usually inadequate to make up this deficit so that many patients are still dying of renal disease who could be restored to a useful and productive life. Nevertheless, few of us would have imagined even 10 years ago that transplantation of the kidney would have become such a relatively common procedure as is the case today, and indeed well over 30,000 kidney transplantations have been performed throughout the world.
Transplantation of the kidney for the treatment of renal failure has been an attractive concept for many years. As long ago as 1945, three young surgeons at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Charles Hufnagel, Ernest Landsteiner and David Hume, joined the vessels of a cadaver kidney to the brachial vessels of a young woman who was comatose from acute renal failure due to septicemia. The kidney functioned for several days before it was removed, and the woman regained consciousness. Shortly afterwards, the woman’s own kidneys began to function and she made a full recovery. The advent of the artificial kidney at that time meant that this approach to the treatment of acute renal failure was no longer necessary, but attention was soon given to the possibility of transplanting kidneys to patients with end-stage renal failure who were requiring dialysis on the newly developed artificial kidney to stay alive.
Although the first experimental kidney transplants in animals were reported first in Vienna by Dr. Emerich Ulmann in 1902 and then in 1905 by Dr. Alexis Carrel in the United States, the problem of rejection was not mentioned by either author. Later in 1910, Carrel did discuss the possible differences between an autograft and a homograft. The vascular techniques developed by Carrel for the anastomosis of the renal vessels to the recipient vessels are still used today. But in 1923, Dr. Carl Williamson of the Mayo Clinic clearly defined the difference between an autografted and homografted kidney and even published histological pictures of a rejecting kidney. Furthermore, he predicted the future use of tissue matching in renal transplantation.