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Is There An Age Limit For Lung Transplant?

If you are suffering from severe lung disease and other treatment options fail to provide desired results, then lung transplant is the best suitable treatment option. Not all respond to transplant the same way though. Age is an important factor for deciding on a transplant but is definitely not the only factor. To decide on a transplant, the team would assess you on a variety of aspects such as medical, social, emotional and economic conditions.

What makes you a candidate for lung transplant?

To be a suitable candidate for lung transplant you should have disease isolated to your lung only. Often people with lung disease develop issues with their heart and kidney. Your doctor will analyse you to confirm that the lung transplant will prove effective and restore good health.

Evaluation and eligibility criteria for lung transplant

To become eligible for lung transplant you will be evaluated by the transplant team for identifying potential problems and to avoid any complications. You will undergo detailed evaluation which includes Blood tests, Tissue type testing, Chest X-ray, Lung function test, CT Scan, Heart related tests (e.g. Electrocardiogram, Cardiac catheterization) etc. To be eligible for lung transplant, you must meet the following requirements:

  • End-stage lung disease with a poor prognosis and not responding to other therapy.
  • Should not have any other medical or life-threatening issues (e.g. cancer, infectious disease)
  • Demonstrate absolute compliance to medical recommendation, medicines and rehabilitation.
  • Should have physical and emotional strength to cope with a transplant.
  • Should have social support system to take care of you after transplant.

Who are not eligible for lung transplant?

Some of the following health conditions can prevent you from getting listed for lung transplantation:

  • Active smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • History of cancer
  • Active infection
  • HIV positive
  • Advanced heart, liver or kidney disease
  • Mental illness
  • Lack of family support
  • Financial issues
  • Under or Overweight

Why “Age” is an important factor for deciding lung transplantation?

Though lung transplant is a treatment choice for progressive end-stage lung disease; due to limited availability of donor, age has become a prime factor used to determine suitability of candidate for lung transplant. The age of the recipient to certain extent defines the risk factors involved, perioperative issues and post- transplant recovery etc. after lung transplant. Hence due to increased chance of complications and decreased survival rate among the older patients when compared to the young patient with better outcomes, age is an important factor for choosing candidates for lung transplantation. However, quality of life, state of health and physiological age factor can be used in selection of elderly patient and age is not an absolute deciding factor.

Is lung transplant advisable for elderly patients?

Previously, lung transplant was not recommended to older patients. However, nowadays, lung transplants for older patient (65 year or above) are rapidly increasing. The result of such transplants are good and the risk factors associated with the surgery are being handled appropriately. Your transplant team will decide whether you would be taken for single-lung transplant (SLT) or bilateral-lung transplant (BLT), considering risk involved and benefit to the recipient after transplant. Generally, due to lower risk, SLT is recommended for older patients.

Conclusion

Recipient’s age plays an important role in the decision-making process in lung transplant. If you are in your mid 60s or above and suffering from end-stage lung disease, you will be considered for lung transplant which will entirely depend on your health condition. Hence, we can say that the chronological age is not the factor but your overall health condition will be considered as more vital to deciding your eligibility

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