Outlook Improving for Heart, Lung Transplant Recipients

More than two-thirds survive at least 3 years, study shows

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WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The number of heart- and lung-transplant patients surviving three years or more after transplant continues to rise, according to a new global report.

More than 64 percent of patients who had heart and lung transplants between 2000 and 2003 survived for at least three years, compared to 55 percent of patients who had transplants between 1988 and 1994, according to data from the Registry of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

Key factors increased the risk of death following transplants, the report found. One of these factors is "primary grant dysfunction" -- a severe, acute lung injury that can occur in the first 72 hours after transplantation. One study found the 30-day death rate for transplant patients with primary grant dysfunction to be 42 percent, compared to six percent for patients without the complication.

Another problem linked to increased death rates among lung-transplant patients is a rejection-linked process called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS). According to a University of Pittsburgh study, about 30 percent of lung-transplant patients develop BOS late in the first year after their transplant. About two-thirds of these patients suffer a steady decline of pulmonary function over several years.

A recent workshop on lung transplantation sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute concluded that a few key priorities could improve post-transplant survival and care. These included an expansion of the donor pool; accurate prediction of and effective treatment for primary graft dysfunction and BOS; and the development of strategies to facilitate induction of immune tolerance.

The findings appear in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about lung transplantation.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, March 2006

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