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Lung Transplantation

Can Lung Transplant Recipients Be Too Old?

10/21/2010

Question:

My brother who lives in N.H. was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis last year. He has been very healthy before this and exercised every day and maintained a good weight. He is 67 years old and recently was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and is currently being treated with blood thinners. He is on oxygen full time. I asked him if he is on the transplant list and he replied no, that he is too old. What is the cut off age? Thanks.

Answer:

Every lung transplant center has their own criteria for lung transplant listing. Age is important, but physiological age (how well the major organ systems work) is also important.

In light of this, some patients who are 67 may be appropriate for lung transplant while someone else at 50 may not be appropriate. I would encourage you and your brother to make inquiries at several lung transplant centers. Centers with larger volumes often have wider recipient criteria than those who perform fewer transplants. Keep in mind that lung transplant requires life-long follow up at the transplant center; in light of this, I would also look to centers that are closest to your brother geographically.

There is excellent patient information regarding transplant available at the United Network for Organ Sharing website. The patient education materials are available at UNOS Patient Education.

The largest program closest to your brother is a Mass General in Boston, MA. Be sure to have your brother speak with his physician, he can also offer guidance regarding transplant center and referral. This is not an endorsement of any specific program, but information to begin your journey. Best wishes for you and your brother.

For more information:

Go to the Lung Transplantation health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Gerene S Bauldoff, RN, PhD, FCCP, FAACVPR, FAAN Gerene S Bauldoff, RN, PhD, FCCP, FAACVPR, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University