Study: Getting a Smoker’s Lung is Better than None
LONDON (AP) - Patients who need new lungs are better off getting donated organs from smokers than none at all, even though they probably won’t live as long as those who get a lung transplant from a nonsmoker, a new study says.
Researchers say patients will survive longer if they are willing to accept lungs from anyone, including smokers. In Britain, that’s a key issue, for about 40 percent of donated lungs come from people who have previously smoked.
Yet in recent years, several cases of British patients dying after getting lungs from smokers have sparked calls for the policy to be overhauled.
Doctors behind the new study said changing the U.K. transplant system would be wrong and lead to a spike in the number of people dying while waiting for donated lungs.
"That could deny patients the opportunity to get help," said Dr. James Neuberger, associate medical director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and one of the study’s authors.
Neuberger and colleagues analyzed information from the U.K. Transplant Registry and the Office of National Statistics on the survival rates of 2,181 adult British patients waiting for lung transplants between 1999 and 2010. About 2 in 5 of those transplants came from smokers.
They found that patients who got lungs from smokers were about 46 percent more likely to die within three years after getting the replacement lungs compared to patients who got the organs from non-smokers. But they had a 21 percent lower chance of dying versus people who were still on the waiting list. The research was published online Tuesday in the journal, Lancet.