Transplantation in Older Individuals: Is It Really Better Than Dialysis?

Curr Opin Organ Transplant. 2020 Feb;25(1):86-91. doi: 10.1097/MOT.0000000000000723.

Abstract

Purpose of review: The kidney transplantation landscape has changed dramatically over the last 2 decades. First, transplantation is performed in patients previously considered ineligible for transplantation, including older patients and patients with multiple comorbidities. Second, organ shortages have increased the use of less-than-optimal donor kidneys, like organs from expanded criteria donors or donors after cardiac death. Third, improvements in managing chronic kidney disease and dialysis have improved survival on dialysis. Therefore, the question arises: does transplantation currently benefit older transplant candidates?

Recent findings: The current review describes important changes in transplantation over the last 20 years. We review recent data on survival with dialysis versus transplantation in older individuals. Finally, we consider methodological issues that might influence conclusions drawn in current studies.

Summary: Limited data are available to assess the potential survival benefit of kidney transplantations in older individuals. The available evidence suggests that transplantation might provide survival benefit in older individuals, even with aged kidney donors, but risks vary widely with donor quality and recipient health status. More research is needed to make adequate predictions of which donor kidneys might lead to good outcomes and which patient characteristics might define a good transplant candidate.