Only 10 to 15% donated lungs are fit for transplant
Smoking among donors can make the lungs unfit for the transplantUpdated: Jun 24, 2018 00:25 IST
Eight patients in Mumbai with life threatening lung conditions are waiting for a lung transplant, according to data maintained by the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee, but doctors say that lack of suitable cadaver donors increases the wait time of these patients.
Dr Nandkishore Kapadia, director of the Heart and Lung Transplant Centre at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, where four patients have been waitlisted for lung transplants this year with the ZTCC, said that finding good quality of donor lungs is a challenge in the city.
“Only 10% to 15% donor lungs are suitable for transplant. Smoking among donors can make the lungs unfit for the transplant. The donor and recipient’s height also has to be matched, which can be a problem” he said.
The reason why transplant programmes for other organs like kidney, corneas, and hearts do well is because finding good quality organs is easy. “The match for a heart transplant is as high as 80% to 85%,” Kapadia said.
Farida Shaikh, 41, a mother of three daughters and a resident of Bombay Central, was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease a year ago which left her with a chronic cough and breathing troubles. The disease progressed so fast that she needed external oxygen supply.
“We visited nearly all the big hospitals in Mumbai, and all the doctors told us that there is no cure for her condition. A doctor suggested getting a transplant, but we didn’t have any facility in Mumbai so we came to Coimbatore,” said Faizan Shaikh, the patient’s husband. “Her condition is worsening each day and we are desperately waiting for a donor.”
Dr Jnanesh Thacker, consultant cardio vascular and thoracic surgeon, who in July 2012 performed the first lung transplant in India, is treating Shaikh. He said that there is a lack of lung transplant specialists in Mumbai. “The city does not have many surgeons who are trained to perform lung transplants and pulmonologists too don’t refer patients for transplants which is why hospitals have not invested in the lung transplant facility,” Dr Thacker said.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and interstitial lung diseases may need the transplant in five years of developing the disease. The lungs have to be retrieved from the donor within eight to 11 of hours of being declared brain dead. A total of 22 organ donations were recorded between January and June 2018. The figures were the same for the corresponding period last year.
So far, only four lung transplants have been performed in the city. Dr Anvay Mulay, head of transplant and cardio thoracic surgery at Fortis Hospital in Mulund, who has conducted them, said that out of the four patients, two succumbed to infections.
“The results of lung transplants are not as encouraging as heart transplants. One reason is that most patients are referred late by their pulmonologists. Also, because the lung is a hollow organ and is the main gateway for air, the organ is prone to infections with every breath,” Mulay said.
According to doctors, better awareness about lung donation will be a major boost to the programme.
“If the number of bread dead organ donations in the city increases, the odds of finding good donor lungs will go up substantially. We will be able to find more matches,” said Dr Kapadia.