Kidney donation is safe for selected, older donors, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Peter P. Reese, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues compared mortality and cardiovascular disease in older live kidney donors (≥55 years) and matched (1:1) healthy older individuals in the Health and Retirement Study. Mortality was ascertained through national death registries as well as through Medicare claims data.

The researchers found that from 1996 to 2006 there were 5,717 older donors in the United States, of whom 3,368 were matched to older healthy nondonors. The pairs had a mean age of 59 years, 41 percent were male, and 7 percent were black. There was no mortality difference between the pairs over a median follow-up of 7.8 years (P = 0.21). The combined outcome of death/cardiovascular disease was not significantly different (P = 0.70) between donors and nondonors with Medicare.


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“In summary, carefully selected older kidney donors do not face a higher risk of death or cardiovascular disease,” the authors write.