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Can the lungs of people older than 60 be used for transplants?

With a scarcity of lungs available for transplantation, the use of lungs from donors older than age 60 has been shown to achieve reasonable outcomes and should be considered as a viable option.  The availability of suitable donor lungs for transplantation continues to be a major obstacle to increasing the number of lung transplants performed annually. Research that explores the means of expanding the donor pool is of critical importance. 
 
In a study of 14,222 lung transplant recipients age 18 years or older between January 2005 and June 2014, 26 percent were age 50 years or younger, with 2 percent receiving lungs from donors older than age 60. Among this group of younger people who received older donor lungs, there was no significant difference in five-year survival when compared to people who received lungs from younger donors. Younger people who received older donor lungs experienced much better outcomes when a double versus a single transplantation was performed. The study showed that in younger people who received a single lung transplant using organs from older vs. younger donors, there was a lower five-year survival (15 percent vs. 50 percent). However, with a double lung transplant, there was no significant difference in five-year survival (53 percent vs. 59 percent).  
 
This study demonstrated that reasonable outcomes are possible with the use of advanced age donors.

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