Thursday, June 17, 2010

Smokers' lungs being used in transplants

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Lyndsey Scott in February 2009 received a double lung transplant from a donor who had smoked for three decades. She died 5 months later of pneumonia. Now there's a huge outcry as to why a smoker's lungs were used for a transplant. Critics are calling for a ban on the use of smokers lungs, but are these critics (who are not transplant surgeons or medical staff) wrong? There's a severe shortage of donor lungs for transplantation and 20 to 30 percent of patients waiting for a transplant die before getting one. Donor lungs are given strict testing and scruitny before being deemed viable for transplant and if lungs from smokers were not used, after being cleared for transplant, possibly thousands more patients would die before ever getting their second chance at life. I would say that lungs from smokers are preferable to no lungs at all if they will save lives, wouldn't you?
NEW YORK, June 16 (UPI) -- There is outrage in England because a lung-transplant patient received donor organs from longtime smokers but doctors say that happens frequently.

A British woman who was given the lungs of a 30-year smoker in a double transplant died from pneumonia nine months later. Her family says surgeons should have told them more about the organs' condition.

However, given the scarcity of donor organs, medical experts say lungs of smokers are not off limits and such donations can still be lifesavers, ABC News reported Wednesday.

"We really don't tell patients that much about organ quality, partially because it's difficult for them to gauge risk," says Dr. Michael Volk, an expert in patient-physician communication at the University of Michigan.

"Patients are aghast that we would give them anything but the best," Volk said, "but they don't understand what to us as transplant physicians seems obvious: if you offer patients only the best quality of organ, than you wouldn't transplant many organs, and more people would die on the waiting list."

With organ waiting lists growing longer and critical shortages of donor organs, "we are pushing the boundaries with marginal donors," Dr. David Cronin, associate professor of surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, says.

"You can't expect transplants to be risk- and death-free," Cronin says, "but the consequence of not enough organs is certain death."

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1 comment:

Cigarette Sally said...

That is the most absurd thing I've ever heard.I drink a bottle of booze a day how about my liver.