The shortage in organ donation is a major limiting factor for patients with end-stage lung disease. Expanding the donor pool would be beneficial. We investigated the importance of geographic distance between the donor and recipient and hypothesized that it would not be a critical determinant of outcomes after lung transplantation.
We retrospectively reviewed the United Network for Organ Sharing lung transplant database from 2000 to 2005 to allow sufficient time for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) development. Allograft recipients were stratified by geographic distance from their donors (local, regional, and national) and had yearly follow-up. The primary end points were the development of BOS and 1-year and 3-year mortality. Posttransplant outcomes were compared using a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model. Kaplan-Meier curves were compared by log-rank test.
Of 6,055 allograft recipients, donors were local in 59%, regional in 19.3%, and national in 21.7%. BOS-free survival did not differ by geographic distance. Geographic distance did not independently predict BOS (hazard ratio, 1.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.96 to 1.10). Similarly, Kaplan-Meier survival curves were not significantly worse for recipients with national donors. Geographic distance did not independently predict 3-year mortality (hazard ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.89 to 1.01).
With appropriate donor selection, moderately long geographic distance (average ischemic time < 6 hours) between the donor and recipient is not associated with the development of BOS or increased death after lung transplantation. By placing less emphasis on distance, more donors could potentially be used to expand the donor pool.
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