Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lung transplant criteria biased against shorter patients

Public Release: 16-Nov-2015
Lung transplant criteria biased against shorter patients
Short people, especially women, are less likely to get a transplant and more likely to die while waiting for one
Columbia University Medical Center

Short people have several health advantages over tall people, including lower risk for cancer and heart disease, and longer life expectancy. But there's at least one health-related downside to being small: the odds of getting a lung transplant are considerably lower.

According to a report by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers, adult lung transplant candidates of short stature receive lung transplants at lower rates--and have higher rates of death and respiratory failure while awaiting a transplant-- compared to those of average height. Women are particularly affected by this disparity, since they are generally shorter than men.

The study was published today in the online edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Surgeons commonly try to match small transplant candidates with small donor lungs, because they believe it leads to better outcomes," said study leader David J. Lederer, MD, MS, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at CUMC. "But the latest evidence indicates that this approach causes short people to get fewer transplants and have worse outcomes. Small recipients can cope with larger lungs, and surgeons can reduce the size of lungs before transplant, with good results. So, there's no scientific or medical reason for this bias against shorter people."


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