November 3, 2010

Older People Need More Kidney Transplants

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Kidney failure affects nearly half a million individuals in the United States, and 48 percent of sufferers are 60 years of age or older. Kidney disease patients who receive a transplant live longer than those that remain on dialysis. Elderly people with kidney failure are getting kidney transplants more often than they did a decade ago. This suggests that the chances of receiving a kidney transplant are better than ever for older people.

Living and deceased organ donations are on the rise, but transplant waiting lists have become increasingly long as more and more people develop kidney dysfunction.

The study examined whether elderly patients with kidney failure have better or worse access to transplants now than they did in the past. It included patients with kidney failure in the United States aged 60 to 75 years listed in the United States Renal Data System between 1995 and 2006.

The study revealed that elderly patients rarely receive a transplant, but they were twice as likely to get one in 2006 as in 1995. In 2006, they had a 7.3% likelihood of getting a transplant within three years of their first treatment for kidney failure. Elderly patients now benefit from greater access to organs from living donors and older deceased donors compared to a decade ago. They also die less frequently while waiting for a kidney than they did in the past.

The authors, Elke Schaeffner, MD, Charit© University Medicine, in Berlin, Germany, along with Caren Rose and John Gill, MD, St. Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, urge clinicians to encourage elderly patients with kidney disease to consider transplantation over other forms of treatment. "Early engagement and education of patients and their families about the benefits and opportunities for transplantation may lead to further increases in the use of"¦ transplantation in this age group. Policy changes and research are also needed to further expand access to transplantation in the elderly," they were quoted as saying.

In reviewing the results of this study in an accompanying editorial, Suphamai Bunnapradist, MD and Gabriel Danovitch, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, noted that elderly patients' probability of receiving a transplant in the latter part of the study period remained quite small and that barriers to transplantation are more pronounced in elderly candidates. "Practitioners should consider in a careful and compassionate manner whether transplantation is a realistic option for each elderly end-stage renal disease candidate," they were quoted as sayign. "Each transplant program must carefully consider the most cost-effective and clinically rational manner in which their elderly candidates are evaluated and managed while on the waiting list."

SOURCE: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, published online October 28, 2010