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Kidney Transplantation Performed Abroad Is Risky

Medical tourists have more complex course, higher incidence of infection and acute rejection

THURSDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who go abroad for kidney transplantation have an increased risk of acute rejection and severe infectious complications, according to a report published online Oct. 15 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Jagbir Gill, M.D., of St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues compared outcomes in 33 patients who received transplants abroad and returned to the University of California Los Angeles for follow-up and a matched group of patients who underwent transplantation at the University of California Los Angeles.

The researchers found that medical tourists presented at the University of California Los Angeles a median of 35 days after transplantation, and that four of them required urgent hospitalization, including three who lost their grafts. They also found that 17 (52 percent) of medical tourists developed infections, including nine who required hospitalization and one who lost her graft and died after contracting hepatitis B. Although the one-year graft survival rate was not significantly lower in medical tourists (89 percent versus 98 percent), the one-year acute rejection rate was significantly higher (30 percent versus 12 percent), the report indicates.

"Transplant tourism is a risky option for patients who are awaiting kidney transplantation, and its implications on public health warrant further evaluation," the authors conclude.

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