Lungs from older donors are a viable option for lung transplants and should be considered more often, a new study suggests.
Survival rates for younger recipients of lung transplants from donors older than 60 are similar to those who receive lungs from younger donors, researchers found.
The University of Louisville team analyzed more than 14,000 lung transplants received by people 18 and older in the United States between 2005 and 2014. About 26 percent of the recipients were 50 or younger, with 2 percent having received lungs from donors older than 60.
Among those transplant recipients, five-year survival rates were similar between people who received older donor lungs and those who received younger donor lungs, the findings showed.
Further analysis revealed that younger patients who received older donor lungs had much better outcomes when they’d had a double lung transplant rather than a single lung transplant.
Five-year survival rates among younger people who received a single lung transplant were 15 percent for those who received a lung from an older donor and 50 percent for those who received a lung from a younger donor.
However, the researchers found no significant difference in survival between younger patients who received a double lung transplant from an older donor (53 percent) or from a younger donor (59 percent).
The study was published online Nov. 9 in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
“The availability of suitable donor lungs for transplantation continues to be a major obstacle to increasing the number of lung transplants performed annually,” study author Dr. William Whited said in a journal news release. “Research such as this that explores the means of expanding the donor pool is of critical importance.”
Currently, nearly 1,400 people nationwide are waiting for a lung transplant, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplant Network. The median waiting time for people on the waiting list is four months, and more than 200 people die each year waiting for a lung transplant.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on lung transplants.