Researchers decry 'regressive attitude,' urge more consideration of seniors for kidney transplants

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More seniors with kidney disease should be put on transplant lists, according to a Johns Hopkins researcher. Attitudes based on outdated outcomes instead appear to be keeping seniors off transplant lists, he said.

Around 9,000 adults over age 65 would have been excellent transplant candidates in the years between 1999 and 2006, according to Dorry L. Segev, M.D., Ph.D., a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor and leader of the study. An additional 40,000 would have been good candidates, he said.

His team created a statistical model that examined how well these older adults would have done based on age, smoking, diabetes and 16 other health-related variables.

Few older adults are put on transplant waiting lists or referred for transplants by physicians, Segev said. While there is a shortage of transplant organs, he estimated that more than 10% of the older patients would have received kidneys from living relatives or friends.

“Anyone who can benefit from kidney transplantation should at least be given a chance,” Segev said. “We have this regressive attitude toward transplantation in older adults — one based on historical poor outcomes in older patients, which no longer hold up.”

The study appears in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. It was funded through the National Institutes of Health and the American Federation for Aging Research.