New figures released by the Health Ministry reveal that the number of organ donors over 70 years old has increased since last year.
Almost every third donor – or 29 percent of the total number – were 70 or older, reports Kristeligt Dagblad. In 2016 the figure was 22 percent.
The main reason seems to be that people tend to be healthier for longer these days – and medical technology is continually making advances.
Kidneys and livers
Accepted wisdom has often been that organs taken from elderly people were of little use, but this is not the case. For example, a kidney can work for up to 120 years and livers also have a long potential working life. It is these two organs in particular that are often donated by elderly people.
According to the minister of health, Ellen Trane Nørby, “it is important that we have a greater understanding of the fact that it is equally relevant for our older citizens as well as our younger ones to talk with their loved ones with regard to what their wishes are and to fill in a donor card.”
New potential areas
The cause of death can also make a difference. Traditionally, organ donors have frequently been victims of an accident, but the numbers of these are falling.
Hospitals have now become increasingly aware that there are potential donors from other causes.
“It’s especially true of the neurological departments. Here, there are often people who have suffered strokes or brain embolisms – and they are older,” said Dr Christina Rosenlund, who is responsible for organ donations at Region Southern Denmark.