Lung Transplants Can Help Some of the Sickest COVID-19 Survivors

By Reuters Staff

January 31, 2022

(Reuters) - People who need lung transplants as a result of COVID-19 do just as well afterward as those who get new lungs for other reasons, early data suggest.

The findings are reassuring, researchers say, because poor outcomes might rule out these patients' transplant eligibility even if their lungs were completely destroyed, given the shortage of available organs.

From August 2020 through September 2021, 3,039 lung transplants were performed in the United States, 7% of which were done in COVID-19 survivors whose lungs had been irreparably damaged by the virus, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine. Overall, 197 COVID survivors received two lungs and 17 received single lungs. Some patients also required new hearts or kidneys. The survival rate at three months post-transplant was 95.6%, which "approached that among patients who underwent lung transplantation for reasons other than Covid-19," the researchers said.

It is unclear how well these patients will do in the long term, but it appears "that lung transplantation may be an acceptable treatment for selected patients with irreversible respiratory failure due to COVID-19," they concluded.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, online January 26, 2022.