The number of kidneys available for transplant could double after research showed organs from donors who die from heart conditions are just as healthy as other donated organs.
Kidneys taken from donors who suffered a heart attack had previously been considered less healthy than those taken from "brain-dead" donors, but scientists at the Department of Surgery at Cambridge University found that they performed just as well.
They examined data from more than 9,134 kidney transplants conducted in 23 UK centres. Of these, 8,289 kidneys were donated after brain death and 845 after heart death.
The research, published in an online edition of The Lancet medical journal, could bring new hope to the more than 7,000 men and women in the UK who are on the kidney transplant list.
Difficulty sourcing enough healthy kidneys means nearly 10% of these patients die before they have a transplant.
Study leader Professor Andrew Bradley said: "Cardiac death donors represent an extremely important and overlooked source of high-quality donor kidneys and have the potential to increase markedly the number of kidney transplants performed in the UK."