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Age shouldn't be a factor in kidney transplantation

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Growing evidence suggests that age alone shouldn't prevent older adults from being organ donors or having a kidney transplant themselves according to researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The findings could help alleviate a serious shortage of organs for transplantation.

A study of 144 kidney transplants found that at least a year after surgery, success rates were comparable, regardless of the age of the donors or recipients. The results were reported today at a meeting of the Central Surgical Association in Tucson, Ariz.

"You can no longer make the argument that transplanting a kidney into an older recipient is a wasted organ," said Robert Stratta, M.D., director of Transplantation Services at Wake Forest Baptist.

About 50 percent of the more than 60,000 people on the waiting list for kidney transplants are age 50 or older. Wake Forest Baptist and other centers are grappling with how to best use the limited number of kidneys that are available each year from deceased donors.

"There is a critical shortage of kidneys for transplantation, which puts us in the difficult situation of rationing organs," said Stratta. "Some physicians have ethical concerns that providing elderly patients with scarce donated kidneys may not represent a worthwhile investment."

Stratta's research, however, found that by using newer methods to match the kidney with the recipient, the ages of the donors and recipients did not affect either patient survival or short-term survival of the transplanted kidney. This means both that more organs previously considered unusable might be transplanted and that older patients might be better candidates to donate and receive available organs.

From October 2001 through February 2004, Wake Forest Baptist transplanted 144 kidneys from deceased donors and found that a minimum of one year after surgery, transplant patients who were over age 60 did as well as younger
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4587
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
11-Mar-2005


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