Experts say lung transplant can extend a child’s life but couldn’t cure Cystic Fibrosis.
Sarah Murnaghan went under the knife on Wednesday for lung transplant. She made headlines when her parents questioned the national policy on how children younger than 12 years old are prioritized for the list of donated organ recipients. Amid the debate, however, is a more important question about organ transplant: How well do children cope when after lung transplant?
According to Dr. Stuart Sweet, chief of pediatric lung transplant at Washington University in St. Louis, treatments for Cystic Fibrosis have greatly improved that fewer children get sick enough to require transplants.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes a build up of sticky mucus in the lungs. This leads to serious infections and complications to other organs. Ten years ago, children with Cystic Fibrosis only live up to elementary school. Today, however, the average life expectancy of people suffering from this disease is 37 years old.
In 2007, a study created a major debate on whether lung transplant offer great benefits for patients with this genetic condition. Doctors concluded it did for patients who are out of options. From that time on, about 200 adults and teen have undergone lung transplants. The patient registry of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation shows that about 80 percent of lung transplant patients survive for a year; about 50 percent live longer than 5 years. Dr. Sweet said, the problem is not the genetic condition but lung transplant. According to him, it is difficult organ to transplant, regardless of the underlying problem.