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Smokers Lungs Suitable For Transplants

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Smokers Lungs Suitable For Transplants

A new study has shown the heavy smokers’ lungs are suitable for donor organs…

A new study suggests that using heavy smokers lungs as donor organs is suitable and does not affect survival rates.

Researchers at the Temple University in Philadelphia found that lungs from donors who smoked at least 20 cigarettes per day for more than 20 years could be used in certain transplant situations without affecting the number of deaths from lung cancer.

Dr. Sharven Taghavi, from Temple University Hospital, said in news that the findings could help decrease the shortage of donor lungs.

“Our findings demonstrate that the current criteria for lung transplantation can potentially be revised to include donors with a heavy smoking history.”

In the study researchers examined data on 5,900 people who had received double-lung transplants 2005 and 2011. Of these patients, 13 percent were implanted with lungs donated by a heavy smoker.

smokers lungs suitable as donor organs 550x365 Smokers Lungs Suitable For Transplants

Smokers Lungs Suitable For Donor Organs

Image Credit: Kenji.Aryan, 2012.

The results showed that the patients who received the lungs from donors who smoked had short-medium-term survival rates; similar to those who got lungs from people who didn’t smoke. Researchers also found that the lung function between the smokers and non-smokers were the same.

Dr. Yoshiya Toyoda, noted that the lungs needed to be carefully screened to ensure they are free of cancer and other diseases before being implanted:

“Lungs from heavy smokers must be carefully evaluated. We recommend a CT scan for evidence of tumors and emphysema in addition to routine assessment including blood gas, bronchoscopy and visual inspection.”

Toyoda also said that the recipients of lungs from heavy smokers should be made aware to the possible higher risk of developing lung cancer.

According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute every year only 50 percent of people whom need a double-lung transplant actually get one, what makes matters worse is that double-lung transplants now outnumber single-lung transplants. With such shocking figure increasing year by year, such research could be vital in improving survival rates of patients who develop lung cancer.

The study was presented Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in Los Angeles.


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  1. Mary Elizabeth Dallas: Study: Lungs From Heavy Smokers OK for Transplant. MSN, 01/29/2012.

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