Healthy older people are at relatively low risk of developing kidney failure during their lifetimes – even if they have somewhat reduced kidney function or higher than optimal blood pressure – making them good candidates to be living kidney donors, new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests.
Despite excellent outcomes in those who have received kidney transplants from older donors, fewer than three percent of live kidney donors in the United States in 2014 were 65 years or older.
Researchers from the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium, reporting Nov. 6 in the New England Journal of Medicine, developed an online risk assessment to help evaluate, counsel and approve living kidney donor candidates. Instead of looking at a single risk factor, the tool analyzes the combined effect of 10 routinely available demographic and health characteristics to estimate the chance of developing kidney failure over the following 15 years and the remainder of a person’s lifetime. Currently, the criteria used to determine whether to approve a donor generally employs one health characteristic at a time.
While kidney donation likely increases the risk of developing kidney failure – donors are left with one kidney instead of two – it is hard to predict by how much. The new tool quantifies overall risk before donation, letting physicians know which potential organ donors are more at risk of developing kidney problems – even if they do not donate.