Older patients may benefit from older donor kidneys

Older patients can benefit from older donor kidneys

Older patients who need a kidney transplant may benefit from receiving an organ from an older deceased donor as opposed to waiting for a kidney from a younger donor.

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According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, kidneys from older donors are suitable for older patients because of their shorter life expectancy. In the United States, more than 100,000 are waiting for a kidney transplant, but most kidneys from deceased donors 65 and older are discarded. Making these kidneys available could shorten the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the researchers said.

The study also found that, although patient survival was only 49 percent at five years, the average difference in patient survival at 10 years in elderly patients who received an expanded criteria donor (ECD) versus a non-ECD transplant was only seven months. An ECD is any donor over the age of 60, or a donor over the age of 50 with two of the following: a history of high blood pressure, a creatinine -- a blood test that shows kidney function -- greater than or equal to 1.5, or death from a stroke.

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"Older patients derive a survival benefit from rapid transplantation with an older donor kidney, while younger patients do not derive a benefit from transplantation from an older kidney," said study co-author Dr. John Gill of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"Ensuring older patients can access older donor kidneys should be a priority in the United States. This may involve increased utilization of older donor kidneys or possibly excluding younger patients from receiving these kidneys."

The researchers concluded that their findings should encourage ECD transplantation in patients over the age of 60, and that they "demonstrate that rapid ECD transplantation is superior to delayed non-ECD transplantation."

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