facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Donated Smokers' Lungs Are Better Than None

Those who need a lung transplant benefit most of all from a smoke-free pair. But smokers' organs can still help.

Image: 

Smokers can still be helpful donors.
Photo via

By Bryan Le

05/29/12

| Share

Unsurprisingly, the best secondhand lungs you can get are from non-smokers. But new research shows that for those in need, smokers' lungs are still better than no transplant at all. The UK study, published in The Lancet, is an important contribution to policy debate in a country where about 40% of donated lungs come from smokers. And it's highly relevant in the US too. Following some cases of patients dying after receiving smokers' lungs, some critics demanded restrictions on lung donations. But many doctors say this would be a bad idea: demand is already larger than the supply of donated lungs, and restrictions could lead to more patients dying while waiting for a transplant. Although getting a smoker's lungs leaves a patient 46% more likely to die within three years than getting a non-smoker's lungs, it still provides a 21% better survival rate than just sitting and waiting for a pair. Restrictions on lung donations "could deny patients the opportunity to get help," says Dr. James Neuberger, one of the study's authors. No similar studies have been done on lung-transplant patient survival in the US, but the outlook may well be similar, as the US and UK both have smoking rates of around 20%. And with about 1,800 lung transplants carried out annually in the US—typically to patients with diseases like cystic fibrosis, who are otherwise likely to die within one or two years—many of these lungs likely once belonged to smokers.  “There's rarely an 'ideal' organ available,” points out Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. “A smoker donor is really just one more factor to consider.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv