(HealthDay News) — New rules intended to create a more level playing field for those awaiting kidney transplants in the United States went into effect Thursday.

The changes are designed to lengthen the time younger patients will have working transplants, increase kidney availability, and improve the odds for patients with hard-to-match donors, Richard Formica, MD, who chairs the kidney transplantation committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and United Network for Organ Sharing, told HealthDay.

Under the new rules, which apply to kidneys from deceased donors, people will get credit for being on the kidney waiting list from the time they start dialysis, not from the time they get on the list, Formica said. Also, under the new proposals, young patients will receive healthy kidneys from younger donors. This may help cut down on the need for re-transplants, Formica explained.

The new program will also move people to the top of the waiting list if they have hard-to-match blood or antibodies that can cause organ rejection, Formica said. In addition, kidneys from older donors will be put to greater use under the new guidelines. These organs are often overlooked because they can’t be transported over long distances without deteriorating. Now, patients will be able to get older donor kidneys in their area, according to Formica.

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