Transplant surgeon Dr. Dorry L. Segev of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues estimate roughly 9,000 adults age 65 and older would have been excellent transplant candidates from 1999 to 2006, and approximately 40,000 more older adults would have been good candidates for new kidneys.
However, none were given the chance, Segev said.
"Doctors routinely believe and tell older people they are not good candidates for kidney transplant, but many of them are if they are carefully selected and if factors that really predict outcomes are fully accounted for," Segev said in a statement. "Many older adults can enjoy excellent transplant outcomes in this day and age, and they should be given consideration for this lifesaving treatment."
People age 65 and older make up more than one-half of those with end-stage renal disease in the United States, and appropriately selected patients in this age group will live longer if they get new kidneys as opposed to remaining on dialysis, Segev said.
"We have this regressive attitude toward transplantation in older adults, one based on historical poor outcomes in older patients, which no longer hold up," Segev said. "Anyone who can benefit from kidney transplantation should at least be given a chance. They should at least be put on the list."
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.