BACKGROUND: Long-term survival of kidney grafts from older donors is inferior to that of grafts from younger donors. We sought to determine whether selecting older kidneys according to their histologic characteristics before implantation would positively influence long-term outcome. METHODS: In a prospective cohort study, we assessed outcomes among 62 patients who received one or two histologically evaluated kidneys from donors older than 60 years of age. These outcomes were compared with outcomes among 248 matched recipients of single kidney grafts that had not been histologically evaluated and were either from donors 60 years of age or younger (124 positive-reference recipients who, according to available data, were expected to have an optimal outcome) or from those older than 60 years (124 negative-reference recipients, expected to have a worse outcome). The primary end point was graft survival. RESULTS: During a median period of 23 months, 4 recipients (6 percent) of histologically evaluated kidneys progressed to dialysis, as compared with 7 positive-reference recipients (6 percent) and 29 negative-reference recipients (23 percent). Graft survival in recipients of histologically evaluated kidneys did not differ significantly from that of grafts in positive-reference recipients but was superior to that of grafts in negative-reference recipients (hazard ratio for graft failure in the negative-reference recipients relative to the recipients of histologically evaluated kidneys, 3.68; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.29 to 10.52; P = 0.02). The performance of preimplantation histologic evaluation predicted better survival both in the whole study group (P = 0.02) and among recipients of kidneys from older donors (P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: The long-term survival of single or dual kidney grafts from donors older than 60 years of age is excellent, provided that the grafts are evaluated histologically before implantation. This approach may help to expand the donor-organ pool for kidney transplantation.
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