Kidney transplantation

A total of 885 kidney transplant operations were performed in Australia in 2020, with 9 in 10 of these being the first kidney transplant. Of all transplanted kidneys in 2020, 704 (80%) were from deceased donors and 181 (20%) were from living donors (ANZDATA 2021).

Kidney transplantation is the preferred type of kidney replacement therapy (KRT), as it lowers long-term mortality risk and costs, and increases quality of life (Liem et al. 2008). Following transplantation, care directed towards preventing chronic kidney disease (CKD) is required (KHA 2021).

Successful kidney transplants where recipients are still living with their transplant, regardless of how many years ago they received it, are referred to on this web page as ‘functioning kidney transplants’.

Transplanted kidneys can be donated by either deceased or living donors. The number of donated kidneys available for transplantation is insufficient to meet demand, with 1,378 Australians on the kidney transplant waiting list as at 1 July 2022 (ANZOD 2022c).

A total of 656 kidney transplants from deceased donors took place in 2021, with a further 350 in the first half of 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially affected activity to do with organ donation and transplantation – 857 kidney transplants from deceased donors took place in 2019, falling to 704 in 2020 (ANZOD 2022a,b). For more information on the impact of COVID-19 on CKD, see Impact of COVID-19.

Variation by age and sex

In 2020, 13,100 people with kidney failure had a functioning kidney transplant (8,100 males and 5,000 females) (ANZDATA 2021).

The highest number of people with a functioning kidney transplant were in the 55–64 year age group (2,200 men and 1,300 women) (Figure 1). This was followed by the 65–74 year age group (2,000 men and 1,100 women) and then the 45–54 year age group (1,700 men and 1,100 women).

The number of males with a functioning kidney transplant exceeded the number of females in all age groups.

Figure 1: Prevalence of people living with a kidney transplant, by age and sex, 2020

The bar chart shows the number of people living with a kidney transplant in Australia, by age and sex, 2020. Across all ages, more males than females are living with a kidney transplant. Numbers increase by age up to 55-64, which had the largest proportion of people living with a kidney transplant, followed by those aged 65-74. Around 6.4% of people living with a kidney transplant are aged 75 and over. 43% are aged under 55.

                 Download data

Trends over time

Over the past 2 decades, the number of people with a functioning kidney transplant has more than doubled, from 5,300 people in 2000 to 13,100 in 2020.

The number of males with a functioning kidney transplant in 2020 was 2.6 times as high as in 2000 (8,100 and 3,100), while the number of females with a functioning kidney transplant was 2.3 times as high (5,000 and 2,200) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Trends in prevalence of people living with a kidney transplant, by sex, 2000 to 2020

The line chart shows the cumulative number of people living with a kidney transplant in Australia, from 2000 to 2020, by sex. In 2000, around 2,200 females and 3,100 males were living with a kidney transplant. The number of males living with a kidney transplant has increased faster than for females, growing 1.2 times more among males compared to females (158% for males and 129% for females).

                 Download data