Dr. Rubin Zhang and other researchers at Tulane's Abdominal Transplant Institute conducted the study to compare the efficacy of transplanting a single kidney from children 5 and younger with transplants from deceased children between 5 and 10 years old. Most transplant centers currently use both kidneys from the younger group in a single transplant to an adult. Being able to split the kidneys of a younger donor, however, will allow surgeons to supply kidneys from a single donor to two patients in need. About 4,000 of the stimated 80,000 people waiting for kidney transplants die each year before receiving a donor organ.
Researchers studied 79 adults who received single kidney transplants from donors 10 years old and younger at Tulane's transplant institute between January 1996 and June 2007. Half of the adults received single kidneys from donors under the age of 5. All the patients experienced similar rates of kidney rejection and complications, and patients in both groups had simiar survival rates. The youngest donor was 9 months old; her kidneys were transplanted into two patients, and researchers said both organs remain healthy and functional six years after the transplants.