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Keywords:

  • Extended criteria donors;
  • graft acceptance;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • transplant centers

Despite the fact that suboptimal kidneys have worse outcomes, differences in waiting times and wait-list mortality have led to variations in the use of these kidneys. It is unknown whether aggressive center-level use of one type of suboptimal graft clusters with aggressive use of other types of suboptimal grafts, and what center characteristics are associated with an overall aggressive phenotype. United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data from 2005 to 2009 for adult kidney transplant recipients was aggregated to the center level. An aggressiveness score was assigned to each center based on usage of suboptimal grafts. Deceased-donor transplant volume correlated with aggressiveness in lower volume, but not higher volume centers. Aggressive centers were mostly found in regions 2 and 9. Aggressiveness was associated with wait-list size (RR 1.69, 95% CI 1.20–2.34, p = 0.002), organ shortage (RR 2.30, 95% CI 1.57–3.37, p < 0.001) and waiting times (RR 1.75, 95% CI 1.20–2.57, p = 0.004). No centers in single-center OPOs were classified as aggressive. In cluster analysis, the most aggressive centers were aggressive in all metrics and vice versa; however, centers with intermediate aggressiveness had phenotypic patterns in their usage of suboptimal kidneys. In conclusion, wait-list size, waiting times, geographic region and OPO competition seem to be driving factors in center-level aggressiveness.