Mayo Clinic surgeons find success transplanting organs from older donors

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Right now, there are nearly 120,000 people in the United States awaiting an organ transplant. But advancements in transplant medicine is making it possible to use organs from a relatively untapped donor pool: senior citizens.

Transplant surgeons at Mayo Clinic were inspired to expand their criteria for using deceased donor organs in order to help more patients on the transplant waiting list. They began trails using older livers from donors 65 years and older, and it’s proven to be successful. In fact, Charles Rosen, M.D. the Chair of the Division of Transplant Surgery at Mayo says in certain cases, using older organs are just as effective as younger ones.


“We’ve found that we can achieve excellent results and it now comprises a fairly significant, about 10% of the patients that get a transplant at Mayo Clinic Rochester have transplants done with an older donor organ,” Dr. Rosen explains.

Since 2000, Mayo Clinic has done over 150 liver transplants from donors over the age of 70, more than 50 liver transplants from donors over the age of 80, and five transplants from liver donors over the age of 85.


“Often times other centers are not quite as aggressive with use of older donor livers and so we get offered those livers from elsewhere in our region or the United States and frequently have to travel for them. It does increase the cost a little bit but the gain is so tremendous for the patients that would benefit from a transplant that they otherwise would not have had.”

Mayo has also pioneered the use of older organs in kidney transplants.

Dr. Rosen wants people to know they shouldn’t rule themselves out when considering becoming a donor because of their age. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a donor, check out the links below: (Iowa) (ND, SD, and MN)

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