Starting April 2, people who need an organ transplant will able to register for receiving an organ even if they are older than 65; their application will be considered according to medical criteria and not according to their age, the Israel Transplant Center announced on Sunday.
Many other countries that perform transplants have already ditched the age limit for organ recipients. While the transplant center has not limited the allocations of organs to people up to a certain age, it believes that expanding the list of potential recipients could lengthen the queue for an organ.
The center’s administration unanimously changed its policy after receiving recommendations from a public committee headed by Dr. Eyal Katvan, a jurist from the Academic Center for Law and Business and an expert in bioethics, medicine and law. The 25-member committee included experts in medicine, law, Halacha, ethics, gerontology and sociology as well as representatives of organ recipients and the elderly. The committee presented their recommendations to Health Ministry director-general Prof. Roni Gamzu in January, and now the change will be implemented.
Who receives an available organ has until now been determined by a formula and point system that included the age of the patient. The older the potential recipient, the less chance he had of getting an organ. Nearly 1,000 Israelis die in an average year while waiting for organs for transplantation.
The transplant center will now take into consideration the chronic diseases of the potential recipient, his likelihood of surviving the surgery and any other medical criterion that has a direct effect on the transplant’s results.
Israel Transplant Center chairman Prof. Rafael Beyar (director-general of the Rambam Medical Center and a leading interventional cardiologist), said Sunday that Israel “now joins the many countries in which the age of organ transplant applicants is not a consideration. They are purely medical. These changes have been made possible by an improvement in know-how, surgical techniques and medical treatment after surgery that make it possible to treat a wider variety of patients,” Beyar explained.