Young vs less young
Usually, for younger patients, it is almost automatic to be accepted by a transplant center unless there is a major problem anticipated with compliance after the surgery or some other contraindications. For older patients it is a little more difficult because they sometimes have other diseases like diabetes, heart disease (for non-heart transplant patient), kidney diseases or osteoporosis, etc. The physicians get into arguments sometimes for wanting to transplant older patients (read more than 70 and for some center even 65) and argue with each other because they all have different opinions. The physicians’ response in this cases is “the patient is the one that showed up asking for help so we are going to help him if we can”. Some older patients do get transplanted and end up doing well. Some are denied because their multiple medical problems make the transplant too risky. A transplant surgery should always be treated as an elective surgery. If we don’t think the transplant will do any good, it should not happen.
Competition always brings the best
Don’t get me wrong though, some transplant centers will not do patients above 70 and sometimes 65 years old. It is more about the philosophy of the center and their aggressiveness. Another important factor who plays a role in accepting older patients is competition around the transplant center. Is this the only transplant center in town and they can afford to be more selective?? Is there a hospital across the street competing for the same patients therefore have to accept older patients so they can do more transplants?? Just like in any business, competition will bring more service so look around and do your homework.
MRB: like your life depends on it
Every transplant candidates case go in front of a medical review board (or patient selection committee) who reviews everything in depth. This group includes physicians, surgeons, social workers, nurses, financial specialists and any other experts needed. As a group, they decide if someone is a good candidate or not. So, if you need an organ transplant and you have been turned down at some hospital solely because of your age, keep looking because you may find a hospital willing to transplant you. You may have to travel to another city or out of state but at least you may get a chance. It is simply possible that you may just be too old too. No transplant centers have an obligation to transplant you.
Million dollar question
Now is time to answer the question about age. There is not any written rule about age limit for organ transplant. It is based on each transplant center policies and belief. If you are an older patient, I would suggest knocking on every door until you are out of option if you really want a chance at life. You may find a transplant center willing to give you a new life.