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November 3, 2011

Older patients can donate kidneys, study finds

The thousands of people waiting for a new kidney may find hope in a new study that finds older people can safely donate the organs.

Johns Hopkins doctors found that kidney transplants performed using organs from live donors over the age of 70 are safe for the donors and help save lives of those who recieve them.

Although the study found that kidneys from older donors were more likely to fail within ten years of transplant when compared with kidneys from donors ages 50 to 59, patients who received older donated kidneys were no more likely to die within a decade of transplantation than those whose kidney donors were between 50 and 59.

 “A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I wish I could donate a kidney, but I’m too old’,” Dr. Dorry Segev, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “What our study says is that if you’re in good health and you’re over 70, you’re not too old to donate a kidney to your child, your spouse, your friend, anybody.”

Segev acknowledged that “it’s better if you have a younger donor. But not everyone has a younger donor. And an older live donor is better than no live donor at all.”

The research looked at records from 219 living people over age 70 who donated a kidney in the United States between 1990 and 2010. The team matched those donors with healthy people in the same age group and found that the donors actually lived longer than those who had both of their kidneys.

More than 90,000 patients are on the waiting list for kidneys from deceased donors in the United States, and many die waiting for an organ to become available. In some parts of the country, the wait for a kidney can be as long as 10 years, and those who can often turn to living donors, both relatives and friends, to ask for organs.

People can function normally with one working kidney.

Posted by Andrea Walker at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Medical studies


Your story about Older Persons Living Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

There are now over 112,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling
1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,800 members as of this writing, including 255 members in Maryland.

Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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