The state of kidney transplantation in South Africa

M R Moosa


Background. Kidney transplantation has been performed in South Africa (SA) since 1966. Transplants were initially limited to public hospitals, and the entry of the private sector heralded a new era in organ transplantation.

Objectives. To document kidney transplantation in SA and compare numbers, rates, trends and sources of kidneys transplanted in the public and private sectors in SA over 25 years.

Methods. National kidney transplant data collected between 1991 and 2015 by the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa were analysed. The total number of kidneys transplanted in the country was counted and rates were calculated. The numbers and rates in the private and public sectors were compared. The source of donor kidneys and sites where transplants were performed were documented.

Results. Over the 25-year period under review, 7 191 kidney transplants were performed in SA. The overall kidney transplant rate was 6.4 per million population (pmp), averaging 4.8 pmp in the public sector and 15.2 pmp in the private sector; 58.3% of the donor kidneys were derived from deceased donors. Cape Town and Johannesburg hospitals performed 75% of the country’s kidney transplants.

Conclusions. The overall transplant rate in SA is declining, especially in the public sector. Most kidney transplants in the country were performed in the public sector, and deceased-donor transplants predominated. Discrepancies exist in the allocation of kidneys. Recommendations are made on how the situation may be improved.


Author's affiliations

M R Moosa, Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; Renal Unit, Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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Kidney transplantation; Public sector; Private sector; Deceased donors; Living donors; Inequality

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(4):235-240. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i4.13548

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-03-29
Date published: 2019-03-29

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