It is now proven that people over the age of 70 years old can safely become a living organ donor for kidney transplant. A study that will come out in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology is showing there is no more risk for elderly to become organ donor than younger donors. The investigators have studied more than 200 living kidney donor over the age of 70 and compared them with healthy people of the same age. The outcome was quite surprising: the organ donors were living longer in general than the non-donor group.
Young Living Donor still Better
The only setback with older donor is that the kidney does not last as long as for younger living donor. This is still a better option than the alternative for those patients who are waiting to receive the gift of life. If it was not for the elderly donor, some transplant recipients would have needed to be on dialysis for many more years. The average wait time for deceased donor is in excess of 5 years in certain region of the US.
Many physicians are not aware that older people can become living organ donor and certainly not all transplant centers are willing to take a chance on an older patient. Some claims the risk of complications is too high but you have to look at this: several thousand patients in their 70’s survive heart surgery every year in the US. The operation for giving a kidney is much less traumatic. There is still a lot of work to do to explore this group of potential donor, they only represent 1.5% of all living donor. In numbers that means 89 donors only out of about 6000 kidney donors.
80 the new 70?
It is all about doing better education of not only the population but also for the healthcare professionals to promote what can be done safely as far as organ transplant go. Every year limits of what was thought to be reached are pushed in the organ transplant world with the only goal of saving lives. With the population living longer and healthier, will 80 become the new 70?