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Kidney donation safe for healthy older adults: study

Xinhua, July 10, 2014 Adjust font size:

Older people who donate kidneys have similar longevity and cardiovascular health as those who do not donate, revealed a U.S. study published Wednesday.

Over the past two decades, live kidney donation by individuals aged 55 years and older has become more common, but there have been concerns that the removal of a kidney could make older donors vulnerable to premature death and cardiovascular events.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania studied 3,368 older donors and compared them to the same number of older healthy non-donors.

After following the participants for a median of 7.8 years, the researchers found that the rates of death or cardiovascular disease were not different between donors and matched pairs.

Donors also did not have an elevated risk of diabetes, a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney diseases, compared with matched non-donors.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Transplantation, may provide some reassurance to older individuals considering donation and the transplant professionals caring for them.

"For too long, when we counseled older people who were considering kidney donation, we were not able to give them good information about their future risk of heart disease. The problem was that prior studies that examined cardiovascular outcomes did not have many older donors," lead author Peter Reese, assistant professor of the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, said in a statement.

"Now we have a reassuring answer. Transplant centers everywhere should provide this new information to older individuals considering kidney donation. These individuals should learn that donation is unlikely to increase their risk of death or heart disease in a meaningful way."

Reese said, however, that this information must be provided along with information from other important studies on risks of kidney donation. For example, older donors must be prepared for a recovery period after surgery, they must consider the risk of short-term complications like hernias, and they must also understand that they face a small risk that they might need dialysis one day themselves.

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