Obese renal failure patients who have a body mass index (BMI) under 40 kg/m2 derive the same overall survival benefit from kidney transplantation as non-obese patients, researchers found.

Standard-criteria donor transplantation was associated with an average 66 percent reduction in risk of death one year after transplant surgery for patients with a BMI under 40, according to John Gill, MD, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues.

The reduction in risk was 48 percent or patients with a BMI of 40 or more, compared with continuing on dialysis, they wrote online in the Journal of Transplantation. However, this advantage was uncertain in blacks with BMIs over 40, they noted.

In addition, the death rate among those who had been placed on transplant wait lists was similar for obese and non-obese patients, the investigators found.

The study findings suggest that obese patients should have the same access to donor kidneys as other patients, Gill said.

"We know that obesity is associated with more complications and an overall survival disadvantage following transplant," he told MedPage Today. "But when you look at the relative benefit an obese person gets from transplant compared to staying on dialysis, it is of the same magnitude as what a leaner person would get."

The incidence of obesity is increasing among patients with renal disease, and previous research has found this to be a significant predictor of outcomes.

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