Factors affecting lung transplant success for people with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

A summary of research published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research

Lung transplants are common for people with interstitial lung disease (ILD). The length of time a person continues to live after their transplant, known as the survival rate, can be very different. A new study has looked at how a number of factors affect survival rate.

What did the study look at?

Researchers gathered information from 284 people who received a lung transplant for ILD at a centre in the UK. They collected data from three different time periods: 1987–2000, 2001–2010 and 2011–2020. A range of factors were looked at including a person’s age, the type of ILD they had and whether they received a transplant of one or both lungs.

What do the results show?

Key findings include:

  • The average age at the time of transplant was much higher in the most recent time period (2011-2020).
  • People aged over 50 lived for the lowest number of years after transplant compared with people who were younger.
  • People with fibrotic non-specific interstitial pneumonia did not live as long after a lung transplant as people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
  • People under 50 years of age who received a transplant of both lungs (known as a bi-lateral lung transplant) were likely to live longer than those who received a transplant of a single lung. This was not the case for people over 50. This suggests that there is still some benefit to receiving a single lung transplant for this group.

Why is this important?

This study outlines factors that affect the number of years a person will live after they receive a lung transplant. It gives a detailed picture by looking at over 30 years of data.

The study confirms that the survival times after a lung transplant can be affected by many factors. This finding supports the need for multidisciplinary teams to make decisions about who should receive a transplant. This is so that all factors can be considered.

The findings also support the idea that a transplant of a single lung is still a valid option for people aged over 50.

Read the original research paper:

Lung transplantation for interstitial lung disease: evolution over three decades