(HealthDay News) — Healthy kidneys from elderly donors are often rejected, but even kidneys from donors 80 and older can function for years after transplantation, according to a study published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Luigi Biancone, MD, of the University of Turin in Italy, and colleagues analyzed results of deceased donor kidney transplants performed at the Turin University Renal Transplant Center between 2003 and 2013. They focused on almost 650 transplants from extended criteria donors — donors older than 60 and those aged 50 to 59 with certain risk factors.

After a follow-up of nearly 5 years on average, the researchers found that patient and kidney survival were comparable whether the kidney donors were in their 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80 and older. Five-year patient survival rates ranged from 88 to 90%. Kidney survival rates ranged from 66 to 75%. Rates of kidneys rejected for transplantation were similar for organs from donors ages 50 to 79 years, but much higher for kidneys from donors 80 and older.

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“The results of this study support the use of extended criteria donors, even donors older than 80 years, but they have to be accurately selected and managed with dedicated protocols,” Biancone said in a journal news release.

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1. Messina M, Diena D, Dellepiane S, et al. Long-Term Outcomes and Discard Rate of Kidneys by Decade of Extended Criteria Donor Age. Clin J Am Soc Neph. doi: 10.2215/​CJN.06550616.