Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Matched Genders Improve Heart Transplant Survival Rate


Surviving a heart transplant seems to be easier when the new heart comes from a donor the same gender as the patient. Men getting male hearts fare the very best of all, according to a new study unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, in progress in New Orleans.

Reporting on behalf of his research team, Eric S. Weiss, MD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, says matching genders result in 24% fewer deaths within 30 days of a heart transplant. This reduced risk of death drops only slightly over the course of the first year (16% to 23%) and the risk of organ rejection drops by about 19%, too.

Weiss says no one approved for transplant should forego the procedure simply because of mismatched genders. If other factors match, the quality of life with the heart of another gender is much more desirable than life without the transplant.

Weiss’ research team analyzed medical records of 18,240 adult heart-transplant recipients spanning 1998 through 2007. All transplant recipients were part of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database.

The team found the long-term (nine years) survival rate was best for men getting male hearts but lowest for men getting female hearts. Other findings include:

  • The risk of death was found to be 61% for men getting male hearts and who were still alive nine years after transplant.

  • Women getting female hearts were at 25% lowered risk of death nine years later.

  • Women receiving male hearts were at 23% reduced risk of death on the same timeline.

  • But the risk dropped by only 15% for men getting female hearts.

The US Department of Health and Human Services / Health Resources and Services Administration provided support for the UNOS project.

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