Age and the Allocation of Organs for Transplantation: A Case Study
- Cite this article as:
- Hackler, C. & Hester, D.M. Health Care Anal (2005) 13: 129. doi:10.1007/s10728-005-4476-x
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What role should age play in the allocation of organs for transplantation? Historically, older patients have not been listed as candidates for transplantation on the assumption that greater benefit could be obtained by favoring younger candidates, raising questions of equity and age discrimination. At the same time, organs offered for donation by the very old are frequently rejected because of concerns about length of viability. We examine a local case that challenges these practices: the liver from an elderly donor was successfully transplanted into an older patient. After exploring some of the potential problems with such a solution, we propose creating a second pool of organs from the very old for transplantation into older candidates, thus expanding the number of organs available, saving additional lives, and including the elderly more visibly in our transplant system.