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Transplant Proc. 2005 Mar;37(2):721-5.

Renal transplantation in patients over 65 years of age: no more a contraindication but a growing indication.

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  • 1Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation Unit, Chair of Nephrology, University of Turin, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Turin, Italy.



Worldwide organ shortage and the increasing age of end-stage renal disease patients demanding a graft have prompted extensive use of marginal donors. The "old-for-old" allocation has been proposed for the elderly. The aim of this study was to evaluate the results of a policy of free acceptance into the waiting list of recipients older than 65 years.


From 1987 to 2004 70 patients whose mean age was 67.4 +/- 2.8 years, underwent an extensive pretransplant evaluation including cardiac studies. Immunosuppression was based upon low-dose steroids, and cyclosporine (50%) or tacrolimus (44%).


Patient and graft survival at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years were 85%, 78.5%, 75%, 50%, and 80%, 74%, 70%, 36%, respectively. Death occurred in 17/70 (24%), 14 of whom had a functioning graft. The causes of death were 30% cancer, 23% cardiovascular, 23% sepsis, 12% cerebrovascular hemorrhage, 12% meningitis. The acute rejection (AR) rate was 18.6%. The causes of graft loss were: 71% patient death, 4% irreversible AR, 4% vascular thrombosis, and 21% chronic allograft dysfunction. The main complications were: 52% prostatic hypertrophy, 40% urinary tract infections, 8.6% diabetes, 11% pneumonia, 10% cardiovascular diseases, 7% urological complications, 8% abdominal pathology, 6% acute pyelonephritis, 8% non-skin cancer.


Despite the increased vulnerability of the elderly, they should not be excluded a priori from renal transplantation. Extensive pretransplant screening, mainly cardiovascular, and a tailored immunosuppression are two crucial issues. The moderate rate of AR suggests that these patients do not have an impaired immunocompetence as far as acute rejection is concerned.

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