The University of Minnesota's Maryam Valapour, M.D., has received a $750,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study living-donor lung transplantation.
An assistant professor of medicine in the pulmonary and critical care division and faculty member of the university's Center for Bioethics, Valapour will analyze the ethical and policy issues surrounding living donor lung transplants.
She will be comparing policies and practices of living donor kidney transplantation with living donor lung transplantation at a group of institutions that perform, or have performed, both types. Living donor transplants are now more common than deceased donor transplants, but that results from the popularity of living donor kidney transplants. There is little research on what barriers have prevented living donor lung transplantation from becoming more widely available.
Less than 2 percent of all lung transplants are from living donors. Currently approximately 2,880 patients are waiting for a lung transplant. Of these, approximately 1,200 will receive transplants in one year, and 500 will die.
Valapour hypothesizes that the major reason that living donor lung transplants are not done is a perception that the procedure is high-risk for the donors. In the procedure, the recipient receives the right lower lobe from one recipient and a left lower lobe from another recipient – potentially putting two donors at risk. While the risk of complication is currently greater for living donor lung transplants, Valapour said that could be due to the procedure being relatively new compared with living donor kidney transplants, adding that no partial lung donors have died after surgery.
The grant will support Valapour as she tries to identify factors that encourage and discourage wider use of living donor transplants, with the goal of drafting policy recommendations that could improve living donor lung transplantation for both donors and recipients.
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