Young people needing new kidneys—the most in-demand organ for transplants—could start getting priority over older patients, under sweeping new transplant protocols being considered by the United Network for Organ Sharing. The current system grants kidneys to those who have been on the wait list the longest, which sometimes leads to older patients getting kidneys from young donors (organs that may have lasted longer in a younger patient), and younger patients getting older kidneys, which can wear out more quickly, putting the patients back on the transplant list.
"We're trying to best utilize the gift of the donated organ," said the doctor who chairs the network. "It's an effort to get the most out of a scarce resource." But some are crying age discrimination. "There are a lot of people in their 50s and 60s who, with a properly functioning kidney, could have 20 or more years of life," says one bioethicist. Currently, 87,000 Americans are waiting for new kidneys, but only 17,000 become available each year; 4,600 people die because they cannot get one in time. See the full story in the Washington Post.