Abstract

The average age of liver transplant donors and recipients has increased over the years. Independent of the cause of liver disease, older candidates have more comorbidities, higher waitlist mortality and higher post-transplant mortality than younger patients. However, transplant benefit may be similar in older and younger recipients, provided older recipients are carefully selected. The cohort of elderly patients transplanted decades ago is also increasingly raising issues concerning long-term exposure to immunosuppression and aging of the transplanted liver. Excellent results can be achieved with elderly donors and there is virtually no upper age limit for donors after brain death liver transplantation. The issue is how to optimise selection, procurement and matching to ensure good results with elderly donors. The impact of old donor age is more pronounced in younger recipients and patients with a high model for end-stage liver disease score. Age matching between the donor and the recipient should be incorporated into allocation policies with a multistep approach. However, age matching may vary depending on the objectives of different allocation policies. In addition, age matching must be revisited in the era of direct-acting antivirals. More restrictive limits have been adopted in donation after circulatory death. Perfusion machines which are currently under investigation may help expand these limits. In living donor liver transplantation, donor age limit is essentially guided by morbidity related to procurement. In this review we summarise changing trends in recipient and donor age. We discuss the implications of older age donors and recipients. We also consider different options for age matching in liver transplantation that could improve outcomes.

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