With a scarcity of lungs for transplantation, using lungs from donors older than 60 years of age is safe and should be considered as a viable option, researchers have suggested.

“The availability of suitable donor lungs for transplantation continues to be a major obstacle to increasing the number of lung transplants performed annually,” said William Whited from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The findings, published in the journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, showed that younger patients who received older donor lungs experienced much better outcomes when a double versus a single transplantation was performed.

Further, younger patients who received a single lung transplant using organs from older versus younger donors, there was a lower five-year survival (15 per cent versus 50 per cent).

However, with a double lung transplant, there was no significant difference in five-year survival (53 per cent versus 59 per cent).

For the study, the team examined 14,222 lung transplants patients, between January 2005 and June 2014.

Among this group of younger patients who received older donor lungs, there was no significant difference in five-year survival when compared to patients who received lungs from younger donors.

“This study demonstrated that reasonable outcomes are possible with the use of advanced age donors,” Whited said.