If you were a transplant patient on a wait list for new lungs, would you rather take a pair of lungs from a smoker, or no lungs at all?
Given the damage we know cigarette smoke can cause, you might choose the latter. But a new study in British medical journal, The Lancet, says you have a better chance of survival if you take the smokers’ lungs.
The only catch?
You’d be less likely to live as long after transplant as those who get lungs from non-smokers.
According to the authors, ‘Although lungs from such donors are associated with worse outcomes, the individual probability of survival is greater if they are accepted than if they are declined and the patient chooses to wait for a potential transplant from a donor with a negative smoking history.’
Basically, you’d be shortening your life by not taking the smokers’ lungs.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the number of people waiting for any kind of lung transplant in Canada has more than doubled in the past 10 years. The number of patients on waiting lists for bilateral lung transplantation in Canada has gradually increased over the past decade.
The authors of the study in The Lancet concluded that excluding donors with positive smoking histories from the donor pool could compromise survival of patients waiting to receive a transplant.
What do you think? Would you rather take smoker’s lungs and the associated health risks? Or would you rather wait for a non-smoker’s lungs?
-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor