Background. Due to a severe shortage of suitable cadaveric allografts for children awaiting kidney transplants, we have performed a series of ABO-incompatible living kidney transplantations (LKT) at our institution. Methods. Between July 1989 and March 2000, 16 pediatric patients (3 female, 13 male) underwent ABO-incompatible LKT. The mean age at transplantation was 10.9±4.3 years (range 5.1-15.0 years). The donor to recipient ABO blood antigen incompatibility was as follows: A1→O, 5 patients; B→O, 6 patients; A1B→B, 2 patients; and A1B→B, A1→B, or B→A1, 1 patient each. The median pretransplantation anti-A1 titers of eight A-incompatible recipients were 1:128 (IgM, range 1:16 to 1:512) and 1:32 (IgG, range 1:2 to 1:128). Median anti-B titers of seven B-incompatible recipients were 1:32 (IgM, range 1:4 to 1:128) and 1:8 (IgG, range 1:2 to 1:64). All patients received three or four sessions of plasmapheresis (PP) and/or immunoadsorption (IA) to remove the anti-A and/or anti-B antibodies before transplantation. Immunosuppression initially consisted of cyclosporine, methylprednisolone, cyclophosphamide, and antilymphocyte globulin. Splenectomy was performed on all recipients at the time of transplantation. Results. The patients were followed for 6 to 122 months with a mean follow-up of 63 months. All 16 recipients who underwent ABO-incompatible LKT achieved a pretransplant isoagglutinin titer less than 1:8 with 3-4 sessions of PP/IA treatment. Of 16 patients, 10 patients had rebound increase in their IgM and/or IgG anti-A/B titers to greater than 1:64 or predepletion levels within 10 days posttransplantation. In addition, nine patients developed renal dysfunction in association with the rebound increase in their anti-A/B. One patient lost his graft because of uncontrolled delayed hyperacute rejection, whereas eight other recipients recovered completely with pulse steroids and PP/IA therapy. After the third week posttransplant, there was no correlation between the occurrence of AR and their isoagglutinin titers. Moreover, no antibody-mediated rejection was observed, even in recipients with continued high titer anti-A and/or anti-B antibodies. Patient survival is 100% to date. The actuarial 1-year and 5-year graft survival rates are 87% and 85%, respectively. No fatal infectious complications occurred despite the combination of splenectomy and immunosuppressive drugs. Conclusions. We have demonstrated that with adequate pre- and posttransplant management, successful kidney transplantation across the ABO barrier is possible in the pediatric population. "Accommodation" of the allografts occurred within 2 weeks of transplantation. Subsequently, the long-term graft outcome of ABO-incompatible LKT was comparable to that of ABO-compatible LKT.
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