Dramatic Improvement in Transplant Survival Rates

More than 60 percent of heart- and lung-transplant patients now live for at least three years

THURSDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Improvements in transplant surgery have led to a significant increase in three-year survival rates, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Marc Estenne, M.D., Ph.D., of the Erasme University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, led a review of heart-lung and lung transplants summarized in the 2005 Official Report of the Registry of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

The researchers found that 63.3 percent of patients who underwent transplantation between 2000 and 2003 survived for at least three years, compared to 55.7 percent of individuals operated on between 1988 and 1994.

Post-transplant problems that appeared to increase mortality rates included primary graft dysfunction (PGD) and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS).

Of 5,262 patients analyzed from an organ-sharing network, 10.2 percent were diagnosed with PGD. The 30-day mortality rate for this problem was 42 percent, as compared to 6 percent for those without the complication.

About 30 percent of lung transplant patients at the University of Pittsburgh developed BOS late in the first year after transplantation. About two-thirds of these patients suffered loss of pulmonary function that continued for several years.

"Key priorities for advancement of the field…included expansion of the donor pool, accurate prediction and effective treatment of PGD and BOS, and development of strategies to facilitate induction of immune tolerance," the authors write.

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