Age-Appropriate Kidney Transplants Urged

Longer life span if donor, recipient are close, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Kidneys from young donors should be matched to young recipients to extend the life of kidney transplants, says a study presented Oct. 31 at the the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting in St. Louis.

The study found that matching young kidneys and recipients could lengthen the life of the recipient by nearly two and half years. This is the first study to compare the ages of donor kidneys and recipients to ascertain how to get the longest use out of donated kidneys.

Researchers examined data about more than 74,000 kidney transplant patients who died between 1990 and 2002.

The length of time a transplanted kidney will survive in a recipient is greatly affected by the kidney's age. An average kidney from a younger donor survives more than 10 years in younger recipients.

"It is surprising that the age of the kidney donor and its recipient has never been taken into consideration, given that donated kidneys are a scarce, lifesaving resource," lead researcher Herwig-Ulf Meier-Kriesche, of the department of medicine at the University of Florida, said in a prepared statement. "Doing this would help extend lives and reduce the number of patients on the transplant waiting list, which is growing exponentially in size."

But this approach is not used in the current donor matching system in the United States. Young kidneys are often given to older patients who die long before the transplanted kidney would have stopped functioning. And many young patients receive older kidneys that fail long before the patient dies. These young patients then have to return to dialysis or have another kidney transplant.

More information

The American Association of Kidney Patients has information about kidney matching.

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Oct. 31, 2004
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