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Lungs Transplanted From Older Patients Are Just As Good, Scientists Say

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Double-lung transplants using organs taken from older donors have a survival rate that is almost equivalent to those taken from younger donors, new research claims.

Since there is a shortage of organ donations, scientists are encouraging patients and doctors alike to consider using older lungs for younger patients, Tech Times reports.

Researchers at the University of Louisville examined data from the United Network for Organ Sharing database from January 2005 to June 2014. Out of 14,222 lung transplants conducted, only 2% of patients 18 years old and over got lungs from donors who were 60 years old and more. Only 4% of all transplants used older lungs, the report added.

The team found that the five-year survival rate for double-lung transplants from older donors was at 53%, which was not much of a difference with the 53% of patients who received lungs from younger donors.

But single-lung transplants from older lung donors posed a higher mortality risk, as those who received single lungs only had a 15% survival rate for five years from older donors, and 50% from younger donors.

Dr. William Whited, lead author on the study,

The availability of suitable donor lungs for transplantation continues to be a major obstacle to increasing the number of lung transplants performed annually. Research such as this that explores the means of expanding the donor pool is of critical importance.

Whited said that the lack of lung transplants is because of the low availability of suitable organs, because many potential donors don’t pass the criteria.

The U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) shows that there are 1,400 patients currently waiting for lung donations. Many of them have to wait at least four months, which results in over 200 deaths annually.

As a result, the OPTN has recommended a more thorough information drive on organ donation and transplantation. Despite medical and technological advances, there is still a large gap when it comes to addressing the need for organ transplants.

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