What Is the Maximum Age for A Lung Transplant?

What Is the Maximum Age for A Lung Transplant?

dr arvind kumar

Imagine this, you have recently received word from your doctor about the state of your failing lung function, further suggesting that the only way to recuperate from this damage is by undergoing lung transplantation surgery. However, the complication is that you are 62 years old as of the date of your diagnosis. 

What happens next? Does the doctor refute your need for a lung transplant because you are technically a “senior”? Or do you continue treatment with no end solution?

It can be understood that the lung transplant age limit is put in place to ensure that the most eligible candidates receive this second chance at life with the donors lungs. While age is, no doubt, a crucial criterion that determines the candidate’s eligibility, it isn’t the ONLY factor.

This blog will explain more about the age limit for a lung transplant and why it plays such an essential role in patient selection.

Who is an Eligible Candidate for Lung Transplantation?

Before we configure our thoughts about lung transplantation based on the age of the patient, let us walk you through the various other eligibility criteria.

Our lung transplant team at Medanta is responsible for evaluating the patient and the current state of their lungs to determine whether or not they should undergo the procedure immediately, as a life-saving option.

Detailed evaluation for determining the eligibility of lung transplantation includes:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Lung function test
  • CT Scan
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization, etc.

After that, the reports are analyzed and the next steps in the treatment process are determined by the team of doctors and surgeons.

The top factors that make a patient eligible for lung transplantation are:

  • Suffering from end-stage lung disease or lung failure with no changes even after additional medical therapy
  • Have not previously suffered or isn’t currently suffering from cancer or similar life-threatening conditions
  • Should be physically and emotionally strong and stable to undergo and withstand the procedure
  • Have not smoked or abused drugs in the last six months
  • Is strong enough to live for 90-days after the lung transplantation
  • Have a poor prognosis unless they undergo an immediate lung transplantation

So, as you can see, there are multiple factors at play when it comes to determining a candidate’s eligibility for undergoing lung transplantation surgery. Age factors in but it isn’t the only factor at play.

Why is Considering the Patient’s Age Important in Lung Transplantation?

According to the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation (GODT), India ranks third in the list of organ donation worldwide, following the United States and China.

Now, seemingly from the ranks, you might think that the availability of organ donors in India is surplus, right? Well, that isn’t the case at all.

In fact, there is a scarcity of donor organs in the country, making it extremely difficult for terminal patients to get immediate transplantation to save their life.

Given that lung transplantation is done with a donors lungs from a deceased patient, its availability is very limited in India. Hence, ensuring that the donors lungs go to the most eligible candidate in the lot is crucial.

The age of the recipient of the lung transplantation determines a lot of factors that are at stake. This includes:

  • The long-term prognosis and quality of life of the patient after the transplantation
  • The post-operative recovery
  • Survival rate over 5+ years after the transplantation

Since older patients are more prone to experiencing post-operative complications and have a decreased survival rate, prioritizing the age of the patient for the transplantation is crucial.

Is Lung Transplant Suitable for Older Patients?

The determination of potential post-surgical complications and survival rates in older candidates for lung transplantation is a theoretical concept.

Initially, in its primitive stages, lung transplantation was primarily for younger patients. Still, the advancements in technology and medical support now warrant lung transplants as a safe and viable procedure for patients up to 65 years of age and sometimes above that too.

Advancements in medicine are efficiently handling the complications and risk factors that are often associated with extensive surgery like lung transplantation, especially in older age.

So, if the patient ticks off the eligibility criteria and the lung transplant team deems them physically and emotionally fit for the surgery, even older patients up to the age of 65 can undergo the surgery.

There are very strict stipulations when it comes to performing lung transplantation in patients over the age of 65.

Conclusion

Most commonly, the maximum age for a lung transplant in India is 65 years. It is similar to the age limit in other parts of the world. A patient’s age plays a crucial role in determining their eligibility for a surgery as complicated as a lung transplantation. From the survival rate to quality of life, a surgeon has to assess multiple factors before they can wave a green flag to the patient’s transplantation.

At Medanta, Dr. Arvind Kumar along with a team of highly skilled surgeons assess the patient’s medical history, lifestyle choice, age, and other eligibility criteria to determine who is the right candidate for the transplantation. However, we can’t brush aside the fact that age is a crucial factor in final decision-making.

Want better clarifications and want to undergo a thorough evaluation at Medanta? Visit drarvindkumar.com for more details.