Transplant centers come up short more often than not when treating patients in need of a kidney, as there is a shortage of donors.

Yet kidneys donated by people 65 or older can still function for many years after transplantation, according to a study published Thursday in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The results suggest that a new source of quality kidneys could be available to patients in need of life-saving transplants. “Kidneys from an old donor may be favorably used, particularly in an age-matched patient,” said Dr. Luigi Biancone, lead author of the study and associate professor of nephrology at the University of Torino in Italy. Biancone and his colleagues found similar survival rates for transplanted organs from donors in the age ranges of 50 to 59 years old, 60 to 69 years old, 70 to 79 years old and even 80 years or older.  “Age is not the sole criteria by which the outcomes of an organ or the quality of an organ should be judged,” said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network — the nation’s transplant system — under a contract with the federal government.  “To exclude an organ just based on age is probably not appropriate,” said Klassen, who was not involved in the new study. He said the new results are “consistent with previous studies suggesting the outcomes for older donors can be quite good.”

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