Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Age need not be a barrier to lung transplantation

It amazes me that some transplant centers still use age as a criteria for lung transplants when it has  been proven that successful lung transplants are possible in older patients, some even into their seventies. Each individual should be evaluated on his or her potential to have a successful outcome.

Lung transplant tends to have a good outcome in older patients according to a new survey.

Lung transplantation was first carried out in 1983 and is seen as a reasonable option for patients who have progressive lung disease. However, there has always been an upper age limit because it has been believed that lung transplant is risky for the elderly. Currently, the recommended age limit for double lung transplant is 60 and for single lung transplant 65 years. However, there are pressures on these age limits as the number of those over 60 in the population increases.
Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have been looking at outcomes of lung transplant in older patients.

Of the 182 lung transplant recipients at the hospital, 52 were between 60 and 69 and 15 were over 65. The five year survival rate for those over 60 was 54.7 per cent and this is higher than the national average for lung transplant recipients of this age, which is 38.6 per cent. The corresponding figures for those under 60 were 61 per cent and 49.8 per cent.

The University of Virginia researchers believe the key to success is a high quality of care given to elderly patients in the earliest stages after a lung transplant. They also think it important to give single, rather than double, lung transplants where possible. The study findings suggest that age need not be a barrier to lung transplant.

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