Study finds good outcomes for older lung transplant patients

Feb 04, 2008

In the world of organ donation, it has been common practice to exclude older patients from receiving transplants because of limited donor supply and lower survival rates. However, patients such as Lois Tumanello, who received a successful lung transplant at 65, are proving that perhaps age does not always matter.

A new UCLA Medical Center study shows that select patients age 65 and older can safely undergo lung transplantation and have acceptable outcomes. The findings are reported in the February issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Since 1999, UCLA has been one of the few transplant centers in the country to offer lung transplants to patients 65 and older who were otherwise healthy candidates for the procedure.

"Over the past decade, various reports have shown that older recipients undergoing all types of solid-organ transplantation can have good outcomes," said study co-author Dr. Abbas Ardehali, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery and director of the UCLA Lung Transplant Program. "We wanted to define the short- and medium-term outcomes of lung transplantation in these older patients to determine whether the outcomes were acceptable."

The study reviewed records of UCLA patients who received lung transplants between March 2000 and September 2006. During this period, 50 transplant surgeries were performed on 48 patients between the ages of 65 and 72. A group of 50 patients younger than 65 were matched to the older cohort for comparison purposes.

Survival rates for both groups were similar. The early survival rate of the older patients was 95.7 percent, compared with 95.9 percent for the younger cohort. The one-year survival rate was 79.7 percent for the older group and 91.2 percent for the younger, and the three-year survival rate was 73.6 for the older group and 74.2 percent for the younger.


Researchers found that older patients were more likely to receive single-lung transplants (76 percent, compared with 16 percent for the younger group) and to receive nonstandard lungs (46 percent, compared with 28 percent). Nonstandard lungs are those considered "less than perfect" but still acceptable for transplantation.

The study's findings suggest that the increased mortality rate among older patients during the period from one month to one year following transplantation — due predominantly to infection — may result from immunosenescence, the gradual deterioration of the immune system with age.

"This finding warrants adjustments in the immunosuppresion protocols for older patients," said lead author Dr. Raja Mahidhara, UCLA assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery. "In addition, future studies should look at the effects of lung transplantation in older recipients on the donor pool and on other, younger patients on the waiting list."

Tumanello, now 66, suffered from emphysema for more than nine years before receiving a single-lung transplant at UCLA in March 2007. Since then, she said, she has felt wonderful and has been enjoying the freedom to go anywhere and do anything she wants. Married, with three grown children and five grandchildren, Tumanello says she is grateful every day for the generous gift she received and is committed to taking care of her new lung.

"I think everyone should be given a chance," she said.

Source: University of California - Los Angeles

Explore further: New device to monitor lung function in space

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bitcoin 'mining pool' promises to stay small

34 minutes ago

The largest group of bitcoin miners, which maintains and processes transactions in the digital currency, is promising to avoid majority control of the currency as a temporary measure to maintain the payment system's credibility.

Airbnb remodels online home

44 minutes ago

Online lodgings listings service Airbnb on Wednesday took the wraps off a major remodel of its online home complete with a new logo.

Can Modi clean the Ganges, India's biggest sewage line?

59 minutes ago

Standing on the banks of the river Ganges a day after his election triumph, Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to succeed where numerous governments have failed: by cleaning up the filthy waterway beloved ...

Bing offers to 'forget' links in Europe searches

1 hour ago

Microsoft on Wednesday followed in Google's footsteps by letting people in Europe ask to have links related to them 'forgotten' on its search engine Bing, under the auspices of a court ruling.

Really smart cars are ready to take the wheel

1 hour ago

Why waste your time looking for a place to park when your car can do it for you? An idea that was pure science fiction only a few years ago is becoming reality thanks to automatic robot cars.

Recommended for you

New device to monitor lung function in space

7 minutes ago

A new method of collecting blood from the ear, currently part of an interactive exhibition at the Science Museum, could be used to monitor lung function in space. Less invasive, faster and more accurate than current methods, ...

Primate research center plays key role in HIV study in Nature

10 minutes ago

In a study reported in Nature this month, Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers were key in determining that treating SIV-infected rhesus macaques with type 1 interferon, a protein known to trigger antiviral respon ...

Three-people IVF debate process on the move in UK

2 hours ago

Takes two to make a child, correct? No. maybe. The use of sperm and eggs from three people to create babies moved a step closer in the UK, with Tuesday's events. What kind of egg-sperm distribution are we talking about? The ...

User comments : 0