Women do not fare as well as men when it comes to organ transplantation, both as donors and recipients. Researchers in Germany now confirm what has long been suspected - kidneys, hearts and livers from female donors are more likely to be rejected by the recipients than those from males. Female recipients are also more likely to reject a donated organ.
The study covered more than 114,000 kidney transplants, 25,000 heart transplants and 15,050 liver transplants from around the world. For men, the risk of losing a transplanted kidney was 22 per cent more if the donor was female. Women receiving a kidney were 12 per cent more likely to reject it if it came from another woman. Female donated hearts were more likely to fail than those coming from men. Also, female heart recipients were more likely to reject the organ than their male counterparts. When it came to liver transplantation, results were less clear - female-donated livers were more likely to be rejected than those from males, but only in North America.
It is believed that gender has an impact on immunity, perhaps through the influence of the female hormone estrogen. The study suggests that higher doses of immune suppressing drugs may be needed both for those receiving female organs and for female recipients.