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Less than perfect kidneys safe for transplant, study shows

A study published Wednesday recommends the U.S. relax its standards on kidney transplants, noting that currently discarded organs with acute kidney injury can be safely and successfully transplanted. File Photo by Kzenon/Shutterstock/UPI
A study published Wednesday recommends the U.S. relax its standards on kidney transplants, noting that currently discarded organs with acute kidney injury can be safely and successfully transplanted. File Photo by Kzenon/Shutterstock/UPI

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Some kidneys that are currently discarded as unusable can be safely and effectively used for transplants, a new study says.

In the study, published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, researchers indicate that deceased donor kidneys with acute kidney injury should no longer be rejected outright, noting a shortage of transplant organs in the United States.

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Researchers say that about 18 percent of potential donor kidneys are discarded, but the rate of those with acute kidney injury is about 30 percent. The research, led by Johns Hopkins Medicine, confirms an earlier study showing that acutely-injured kidneys are rejected after transplant at no greater rate than non-injured kidneys.

"This study's findings suggest that the transplant community should continue to use deceased donor AKI [acute kidney injury] kidneys and consider research to investigate whether currently discarded AKI kidneys can be used more effectively," researchers wrote in the study.

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About 95,000 people with kidney failure in the United States await donor organs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services said in November.

At least 9,000 per year drop off the waiting list because of death or deteriorating health making a transplant unadvisable. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease noted that the need for donor kidneys grows at eight percent per year, without a matching increase in supply.

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"We estimate there may hundreds of kidneys with AKI each year that are going unused but could be transplanted," Dr. Chirag Parikh, director of the Division of Nephrology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the paper, said in a press release. "Therefore, we are urging the transplant community to bring AKI kidneys into the donor pool with more confidence."

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An August study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that the United States should relax its standards in accepting donor kidneys in order to help more patients.

In that study, University of Pennsylvania researchers noted that only nine percent of available replacement kidneys were discarded in France, compared to 18 percent in the United States, adding that France routinely accepts kidneys from older donors and other groups which would be rejected in the United States.

RELATED Use of deceased-donor kidneys varies by transplant center, study says

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