Lung Transplant Survival Improving
More Than 63% Survive for at Least 3 Years, Experts Report
March 15, 2006 - Good news for lung transplant patients. The odds of
survival for this risky surgery are getting better.
A report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
details the improvement. The report shows that nearly 56% of people who got
lung transplants in 1988-1994 survived for at least three years, compared with
63% who got lung transplants from 2000 to 2003.
Data came from the 2005 Official Report of the Registry of the International
Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. The researchers were Marc Estenne,
MD, of Erasme University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, and Robert Kotloff, MD,
of the University of Pennsylvania.
Latest Lung Transplant Numbers
The report details findings for 931 bilateral lung transplants (in which
both lungs are replaced), 772 single-lung transplants, and 74 heart-lung
transplants in 2003.
Though survival has improved, lung transplantation still carries serious
risks including infections and rejection of the transplant by the patient's
Lung transplants are usually done as a last resort after other medical
treatments fail for diseases such as emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic
fibrosis. Afterward, transplant patients must take medicines for life to reduce
the chances that their body will reject the transplant.
Expanding the pool of organ donors is a key priority, note Estenne and
Kotloff. They also call for new ways to predict and avoid complications from
Long Waiting List
In the U.S. today, there are 3,099 people waiting for lung transplants and
148 awaiting heart-lung transplants. Those figures come from the Organ
Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The United Network for Organ
Sharing runs OPTN under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human
In 2005, nearly 3,500 people in the U.S. were on lung transplant waiting
lists and 1,000 got lung transplants, according to the American Lung
Considering becoming an organ donor? The U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services offers this advice:
- Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver's
- Carry an organ donor card.
- Most important, discuss your decision with family members and loved ones.
Your family may be asked to sign a consent form in order for your donation to