When it comes to lung transplants, does age matter?

When it comes to lung transplants, does age matter?

Lungs from older-aged donors are a viable option for transplants and should be considered more often, a new study from the University of Louisville suggests.

Researchers analyzed more than 14,000 lung transplants received by patients who were 18 years of age or older. While only two percent of these patients received lungs from donors over 60 years of age, five-year survival rates were extremely similar between patients who received younger donor lungs and those who received older donor lungs.

26 percent of the donor recipients were 50 years of age or younger. The five-year survival rate among these younger patients who received a double lung transplant from an older donor was 53 percent. Similarly, the five-year survival rate among the younger patients who received a double lung transplant from a younger donor was 59 percent. That’s only a six percent difference.

However, the outcomes for the younger patients who received older donor lungs for a double transplant were much better than those who received an older donor lung for a single lung transplant.

In this case, five-year survival rates were only 15 percent in comparison to the 50 percent five-year survival rate for those who received a lung from a younger donor.

“Finding suitable donor lungs can be challenging,” says Dr. Charles Alex, medical director of the Lung Transplant program at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Maximizing the donor pool by using older donor lungs will enable more lung transplants that will hopefully save more lives.”

The United States Organ Procurement and Transplant Network says more than 200 people will die each year waiting for a lung transplant. They also say that about 1,400 people are waiting for lung transplants today, with an average wait time of about four months before finding a suitable donor.

To learn more about lung transplantation care, click here.

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About the Author

Jamie Bonnema
Jamie Bonnema

Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.

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