(HealthDay News) — There is a significant left digit age bias in the selection and acceptance of organs for donation, according to a study published in the American Journal of Surgery.

Clare E. Jacobson, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined whether there is a supply restricting left digit bias in organs offered and accepted for donors entering a new decade of age. A total of 105,387 potential deceased organ donors who had any organs offered for transplantation were analyzed from the 2010 to 2019 Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Donors were identified one year before and after a their 60th birthday (2018 and 1585, respectively) and one year before and after their 70th birthday (705 and 504, respectively).

The researchers found that donors entering a new decade of life were less likely to have any organs placed after age 70 years. The number of donors at each age decreased as age increased, with a disproportionate drop in number of donors with entry to a new left digit altering the decade of age. At age 70 versus 69 years, there was a 5.4% decrease in the probability of any organ placement. After age 70 years, there was a decrease of 0.25 organs placed per donor.


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“This demonstrated bias is not limited to a single transplant center, organ procurement organization, or even step in the transplant process, and is seen across organ types,” Jacobson said in a statement. “In our role as stewards of these gifted organs and for all patients waiting for a transplant, interventions must target every step in the transplantation process to overcome our prejudiced thinking.”

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