The ERA Council officially approved the creation of a working group dedicated to renal transplantation. Its creation is mainly due to the following reasons:
– Kidney transplantation is a relevant part of Nephrology. Indeed, nearly 50% of patients with primary kidney failure live with a kidney transplant in Europe. Therefore, increasing kidney transplantation visibility and disseminating its knowledge may benefit the whole nephrological community.
– The knowledge about kidney transplantation and current standard practices in kidney transplantation varies between European countries and nephrologists and objective, unbiased educational activities may help to further increase the post-transplant outcome in European patients.
– In Europe several research groups dealing with renal transplantation exist. Their activity can benefit from a mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise liaising with a structured Working Group.
– A Working Group on transplantation can be considered a network opportunity for young clinicians and scientists, interested in this particular field of nephrology and related projects.The acronym DESCARTES (Developing Education Science and Care for Renal Transplantation in European States) best summarizes the activity and mission of the group.

DESCARTES has the ambition to contribute, through education and research, to the improvement of the care of renal patients and especially of patients living with a kidney transplant.

As per the ERA regulations for Working groups, the vision and mission of DESCARTES are:
1. To develop educational activities related to renal transplantation
DESCARTES  has established the following educational priorities to promote pre-emptive transplantation and to stimulate living donor transplantation. The rationale is threefold: improving pre-emptive transplantation from living donors is a crucial step that may contribute to prevent organ shortage, and improve transplant rates and patient outcomes. In addition, general nephrologists (target audience for the DESCARTES educational activities) are those who can direct their patients reaching terminal kidney failure to pre-emptive living donor transplantation.
DESCARTES in collaboration with European Renal Best Practice (ERBP) worked on guidelines for pre-emptive living donor transplantation.
2. To promote and develop both clinical and biological research in the field of kidney transplantation, with the aim to improve patient outcomes.
DESCARTES major plan is to set up clinical trials whose main characteristics are: 1) to focus on unambiguous, meaningful clinical endpoints; 2) to include estimates of cost and cost-effectiveness; 3) to set up trials with sufficiently long follow-up time; 4) to enrol patients that are usually excluded from industry-driven clinical trials; 5) to provide a network of clinical trial sites for future translational research projects.
3. To foster communication between members with related research interests, and to collaborate when possible with other ERA Working Groups.
DESCARTES deliberately started collaborating with ESOT (European Society of Organ Transplantation) in order to join forces in terms of guidance (education) and science in the field of renal transplantation in Europe. DESCARTES is also planning to coordinate its activity in close relation to the already existing ERA Working Groups and Bodies.


Luuk Hilbrands (Netherlands) – Chair
Gabriel Oniscu (United Kingdom) – Vice Chair
Marta Crespo (Spain)
Ilaria Gandolfini (Italy)
Rachel Hellemans (Belgium)
Christophe Mariat (France)
Geir Mjøen (Norway)
Mehmet Sukru Sever (Turkey)
Bruno Watschinger (Austria)
Arzu Velioglu (Turkey)


Being a ordinary member of the DESCARTES means being part of a network which facilitates exchanges of ideas on basic science research and new treatment protocols.

Becoming an ordinary member of the DESCARTES Working Group is FREE OF CHARGE. Ordinary members must be ERA members and be persons with a proven interest in the research area covered by the WG. Exceptions are possible only for non-nephrologists.

By joining the DESCARTES you will receive constant updates on the Working Group initiatives be included in the Directory of DESCARTES’ ordinary members and start networking with colleagues from all over the world.

Click here to join.

The ordinary membership application is subject to validation. Please allow some time for a quick administrative check before applying multiple times.


Issues regarding COVID-19 in kidney transplantation in the era of the omicron variant: a commentary by the ERA Descartes working group
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, June 2022

Management of obesity in kidney transplant candidates and recipients: A clinical practice guideline by the Descartes working group of ERA
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, November 2021 – Click here and here to see two webcasts related to the subject

Assessment of Pre-Donation Glomerular Filtration Rate: Going Back To Basics A Position Paper from the DESCARTES Working Group of the ERA-EDTA
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, September 2021 – Click here to watch the related NDT Author Video

Long-term risks after kidney donation: How do we inform potential donors? A survey from DESCARTES and EKITA transplantation working groups
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, March 2021

How should I manage immunosuppression in a kidney transplant patient with COVID-19? An ERA-EDTA DESCARTES expert opinion
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, June 2020

Pre-existing malignancies in renal transplant candidates—time to reconsider waiting times
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, August 2019

Standard work-up of the low-risk kidney transplant candidate: a European expert survey of the ERA-EDTA Developing Education Science and Care for Renal Transplantation in European States Working Group
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, September 2019
PRESS RELEASE – Fewer medical tests – timely listing for transplantation January 22, 2019
Diagnosis and management of asymptomatic bacteriuria in kidney transplant recipients: a survey of current practice in Europe
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, September 2018

Recent advances in kidney transplantation: a viewpoint from the Descartes advisory board
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 12 January 2018
PRESS RELEASE: Descartes Advisory Board declares: New allocation rules have to be developed!
January 26, 2018

Long-term risks of kidney living donation: review and position paper by the ERA-EDTA DESCARTES working group
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, February 2017 – Informed consent: Information for the kidney live donor concerning the long term risk of donor nephrectomy
PRESS RELEASE: How “safe” is it to donate a kidney? / A position paper by the ERA-EDTA DESCARTES working group
February 17, 2017

Does pre-emptive transplantation versus post start of dialysis transplantation with a kidney from a living donor improve outcomes after transplantation? A systematic literature review and position statement by the Descartes Working Group and ERBP
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, May 2016

Strategies to increase the donor pool and access to kidney transplantation: an international perspective.
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, February 2015

Criteria For And Appropriateness Of Renal Transplantation In Elderly Patients With End-Stage Renal Disease: A Literature Review And Position Statement On Behalf Of The European Renal Association-European Dialysis And Transplant Association Descartes Working Group And European Renal Best Practice.
Transplantation, July 2016

Immunosuppression in the elderly renal allograft recipient: a systematic review
Transplant Rev (Orlando), May 2016

The DESCARTES-Nantes survey of kidney transplant recipients displaying clinical operational tolerance identifies 35 new tolerant patients and 34 almost tolerant patients.
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, January 2016

Renal Transplantation in the Elderly
Transplantation Reviews, October 2015


  • Randomized trial on failing grafts – the group is embarking on a RCT on the management of immunosuppression after graft failure. The trial shall focus on two main questions: 1. Can we prevent HLA sensitisation and/or explanation by continuing immunosuppression? 2. Is it safe to maintain immunosuppression after graft failure? Inclusion criteria: Inclusion of patients with a failing graft that re-start dialysis; Inclusion of candidates for re-Tx. Inclusion can proceed up to 3 months after graft failure in patients under CNI (in order to better identify those who are candidates for re-tx). Treatment comparisons: low-dose CNI + low dose steroids/steroid tapering vs low dose steroids/steroid tapering Outcome: Efficacy: calculated PRA after 1 year follow-up, graft nephrectomy, transplantation rate. Safety: death, infection, hospitalization. The failing renal graft an ERA initiated randomized trial project, submitted by DESCARTES in collaboration with EUDIAL and IWG (it is planned to include immunological studies concerning memory B cells), was selected to be one of the projects to be supported by the ERA through the Long Term Fellowship Programme in 2019.
  • European survey on the communication of long-term risks to potential living kidney donors – Living kidney donation is the best available treatment for end-stage renal disease. The evaluation of living donors is standardized and quite similar across Europe. However, there is no consensus about how to inform those who are considering living kidney donation about potential long-term risks. DESCARTES together with EKITA (ESOT) created a survey to prospect how transplant professionals from all over Europe disclose these risks to those who are considering living kidney donation. The results of this survey helped create a recommendation for how to inform potential living donors. The survey was dispatched to all DESCARTES members between June 2018 and March 2019. Related publications: Long-term risks after kidney donation: How do we inform potential donors? A survey from DESCARTES and EKITA transplantation working groups.
  • Ethical challenges in living unrelated donor transplantation – Ethical challenges are very frequent in transplantation and prominent in living unrelated donor transplantation (LUDRTx). There are several types of donors in LURDTx practice; they are simply classified as; altruistic, emotionally related (or conventional) and definitely unrelated (or unconventional) donors. Ethical problems are minimal / negligible in the case of “conventional” donations, while significant in definitely unrelated donor (“unconventional”) transplantations, because donor reimbursement is considered. In the declaration of Istanbul Summit, which was held with representatives from >150 different countries in 2008, it was stated that “donors may be reimbursed for verifiable expenses”; this statement was endorsed by WHO again in 2008. This reimbursement has been the subject of extensive debates. DESCARTES is running a project, coordinated by M. Sukru Sever, with the aim of formulating a well-balanced European attitude on this highly debated practice. A first draft was shared with the ERA Ethics Committee and is currently subject to adjustments.
  • ‘Diagnosis and management of asymptomatic bacteriuria in adult kidney transplant recipients’ Survey. Aa survey was circulated to physicians taking care of adult kidney transplant recipients on a regular basis and working in Europe. The survey was aimed at identifying the current practice in Europe regarding diagnosis and management of asymptomatic bacteriuria (i.e., bacteriuria without symptoms or signs suggestive of urinary tract infection) after adult kidney transplantation. In collaboration with ESGICH Working Group (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) Study Group for Infections in Compromised Hosts). Related publications: Diagnosis and management of asymptomatic bacteriuria in kidney transplant recipients: a survey of current practice in Europe


Management of obesity in kidney transplant candidates and recipients – Tuesday March 22, 2022
ERA WG e-seminar series #22 – organised by DESCARTES
Click here to watch the webcast of the event

 Obesisty in Kidney Transplatation – Tuesday November 16, 2021
ERA WG e-seminar series #14 – organised by DESCARTES
Click here to watch the webcast of the event

Living donor kidney transplantation: how to optimize the potential donor pool – Thursday May 6, 2021
ERA WG e-seminar series #7 – organised by DESCARTES
Click here to watch the webcast of the event

The Webcasts of the Clinical Transplantation Day 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 are available here


Do not miss the educational event

November 26, 2021

COVID-19 has significantly changed the world in general, but certainly also the management of organ transplant recipients. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have increased our knowledge on how to organize the care for our transplant patients and have increased the use of remote monitoring of vital signs and immunosuppressive drug therapy. The advent of efficacious COVID-19 vaccines has reinforced our attention for the opportunities of vaccination for various diseases before and after solid organ transplantation. Furthermore, we have gained more knowledge on the determinants of successful vaccination, including the effects of immunosuppressive drugs.

Meanwhile, innovative approaches in patient profiling, risk assessment and targeted therapy have increased the potential for personalized immunosuppression. Our efforts to maximize the number of patients being able to profit from the successes in organ transplantation, can raise some ethical dilemmas that deserve to be discussed.
This 7th edition of the Clinical Transplantation Day will address new insights obtained during the COVID-19 pandemic with emphasis on how to optimize the chances for a successful outcome in individual transplant patients.

Click here to learn more about the event.


Patient Management and empowerment in the post COVID-19 World – CTDay 2020 – a fully virtual event that will be held on November 20, 2020 – click here to view the online available materials.

One size does not fit all – Specific challenges posed by individual donor, recipient and transplant characteristics – CTDay – November 29,  2019 – Barcelona, Spain – click here to view the online available materials.

Making the right decision in kidney transplantation: current controversies on clinical and ethical issues – October 12, 2018 – Edinburgh, UK

How can I improve the outcomes of kidney transplantation in my center? – October 13, 2017 – Antwerp, Belgium

Latest developments in transplantation medicine: selected topics you should know – November 4-5, 2016  – Berlin, Germany


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