May 25 (UPI) -- A recent study found that accepting a kidney from a deceased diabetic donor may be best option for older patients or those facing long waits on a transplant list.
There has long been a disparity of more people needing organ transplants than available donor organs.
Of the more than 98,000 Americans currently on the transplant list awaiting a kidney transplant, only 17,000 will receive transplants each year.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine have found that the best chance of survival for older patients, those who are facing long waits -- five to seven years -- on a waiting list or those who already have diabetes is to accept a kidney from a deceased donor who had diabetes.
"Most often, these organs are considered 'high-risk' as diabetes is a risk factor for kidney disease, and there may be underlying kidney damage that is not detected in initial organ screenings prior to transplantation," Dr. Jordana Cohen, an instructor of Medicine in the division of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension at Perelman, said in a press release. "However, there are many patients on the wait list who will die before they receive a kidney transplant. For these patients, based on this study, their best chance of survival and of having a better quality of life may come from accepting this kind of organ."
The observational study included 437,619 kidney transplant candidates listed in the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database, including 8,101 recipients of diabetic donor kidneys and 126,560 recipients of non-diabetic donor kidneys.
Researchers found the benefits of receiving a kidney from a diabetic donor far outweighed the risks for older patients -- those who had diabetes themselves or had long wait list times.
The researchers found, however, that poor quality diabetic donor kidneys and diabetic donor kidneys for transplant patients under 40 did not benefit from diabetic donor kidneys.
"Our goal was to evaluate the mortality risk of transplantation with diabetic donor kidneys compared to remaining on the kidney transplant waitlist, and to determine which patients would benefit most from transplantation with these organs," said Dr. Deirdre L. Sawinski, assistant medical director of Kidney Pancreas Transplantation, and an assistant professor of medicine in the division of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension. "In this analysis, we were able to determine that kidney transplant candidates who are at highest risk of dying on the waitlist, such as the elderly, patients with diabetes themselves, and those at centers with the longest average waiting times, benefit most from transplantation with diabetic donor kidneys, with a nearly 10 percent improvement in long term survival."