Saturday, August 1, 2009

When it Comes to Kidney Donors: Younger is Better

When I was on the waiting list and looking for a donor, I remember by doc at that time telling me a few things about what to look for. Things like the donor's height, size and age. These seem to be trivial, but when he explained why to me, it made real good sense.

Reading an article that mentioned how kidney transplants from older donors did not fare as well as those from younger donors reminded me of why you should find a donor who is just as old or younger than you are.

Kidneys from older donors often do not survive long after transplantation because of certain structural dysfunctions that can occur as the kidney ages


The findings indicate that the number of functioning glomeruli - the filtering units of the kidney - drops significantly with age, leading to a self-perpetuating injury in the rest of the kidney


To understand the aging-related changes in the kidney that account for the shortened survival of older organs, Dr. Tan and her colleagues analyzed the structures of kidneys from 20 aging (ages above 55 years) and 23 youthful (ages less than 40 years) deceased donors. They also looked specifically at the glomeruli of a subset of 13 aging and 12 youthful deceased donors that were taken prior to transplantation. The investigators found a 32% depression of the glomerular filtration rate, a measure of the kidneys' ability to filter and remove waste products, in the aging vs youthful groups. In addition, the number of functioning glomeruli was profoundly depressed in older kidneys compared with younger kidneys.

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