February 22, 2024

Younger patients would get best organs under kidney transplant program

Efforts to “best utilize the gift of the donated organ”

The US organ-transplant network may reserve its best kidneys for younger, healthier people over older, sicker patients. Instead of giving first preference to patients who have been on the waiting list the longest, it would try to to maximize the number of years provided by each kidney – the most sought-after organ for transplants.

“We’re trying to best utilize the gift of the donated organ,” said Kenneth Andreoni, an associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University who chairs the committee that is reviewing the system for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a US non-profit contracted by the federal government to coordinate organ allocation. “It’s an effort to get the most out of a scarce resource.”

The potential changes have been welcomed by some bioethicists, patient representatives and transplant surgeons. But others worry that the changes could skew the pool of available organs by altering the pattern of people making living donations. Removing the first-come, first-served system could also unfairly penalise middle-aged and elderly patients at a time when the population is ageing.

“The best kidneys are from young adults under age 35 years. Nobody over the age of 50 will ever see one of those,” said Lainie Friedman Ross, a University of Chicago bioethicist. “There are a lot of people in their 50s and 60s who, with a properly functioning kidney, could have 20 or more years of life. We’re making it harder for them to get a kidney that will function for that length of time. It’s age discrimination.” ~ Washington Post, Feb 24

Younger patients would get best organs under kidney transplant program
Jared Yee
organ transplant