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How long does a kidney transplant last?

Graft survival in kidney transplant depends on several factors such as immunological matching between recipient and donor, type of transplant (living donor vs. deceased donor), rejection episodes, use of certain antirejection drugs, infections in transplant and recurrence of certain diseases. In general, median survival (time in years at which 50 percent of grafts are functioning and 50 percent are not) for a deceased donor transplant is 8 to 10 years. The median survival for a living donor transplant is around 15 years.

Kidney transplant recipients from living related donors have a lower mortality than recipients from deceased donors, probably because of a lower chance of rejection. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, in 2015, prognosis for 5-year survival for people who received kidney transplants in 2010 was as follows:

  • those who received a deceased-donor kidney, 86.8 percent
  • those who received a living-donor kidney, 93.5 percent
  • survival was lower in recipients age 65 years and older
  • survival was lower in recipients with diabetes as cause of kidney failure
Dr. Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

With the use of current immunosuppressive medications the risk of sudden kidney rejection is low, and if it occurs it can be treated very effectively. Kidney transplants last relatively long. Fifty percent of kidneys from a living donor still function after 16 to 20 years, and with organs from deceased donors, a transplanted kidney should last 8 to 10 years. Most people who have had a kidney transplant die with a functioning kidney—the cause of death is usually another disease or illness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.