Objective: To identify whether renal transplant activity varies in a reproducible manner across the year

Design: Retrospective cohort study using NHS blood and transplant (NHSBT) data

Setting: All renal transplant centers in the UK
Participants: 24,270 patients who underwent renal transplantation between 2005 and 2014

Primary outcome: Monthly transplant activity was analysed to see if transplant activity showed variation during the year

Secondary Outcome: The number of organs rejected due to healthcare capacity was analysed to see if this affected transplantation rates.

Results: Analysis of national transplant data revealed a reproducible yearly variance in transplant activity. This activity increased in late autumn and early winter (p=0.05) and could be attributed to increased rates of living (October-November) and deceased organ donation (November, December). An increase in deceased donation was attributed to a rise in donors following cerebrovascular accidents and hypoxic brain injury. Other causes of death (infections and road traffic accidents) were more seasonal in nature peaking in the winter or summer respectively. Only 1.4% of transplants to intended recipients were redirected due to a lack of healthcare capacity, suggesting that capacity pressures in the NHS did not significantly affect transplant activity.

Conclusion: UK renal transplant activity peaks in late autumn/ winter in contrast to other countries. Currently healthcare capacity, though under strain, does not affect transplant activity; however this may change if transplantation activity increases in line with national strategies as the spike in transplant activity coincides with peak activity in the national healthcare system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Early online date17 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • renal transplantation
  • seasonal variation
  • healthcare planning


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