For patients with lung disease in need of a full-lung transplant, time is of the absolute essence – as the average survival rate without surgery is only one to two years, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Although transplant patients do not have much time to wait, that is what many of them inevitably wind up doing. A critical shortage of organ donors leaves many of these patients without the vital organ they need, and a large portion of those on the waiting list simply do not get a new pair of lungs in time.
To combat this problem, researchers from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia decided to think outside the box, in order to come up with ways of expanding the usable field of lung donors. Their research ultimately led them to the least likely candidates of all – heavy smokers.