Background: Many potential lung donors are excluded on the basis of a positive donor gram stain (DGS). We examined the association between a positive DGS and the probability of post-operative recipient pneumonia in the first 30 days.
Methods: Ninety lung transplants (80 with a non-septic pre-transplant diagnosis) from 60 consecutive donors were evaluated for post-operative pneumonia (defined as a compatible clinical syndrome with fever, leukocytosis, chest X-ray abnormalities or histologic evidence obtained by transbronchial biopsy). DGS, white blood cell quantity, CXR and PaO(2)/FIO(2) (P/F) ratio were compared with immediate and 24-hour P/F ratio, length of mechanical ventilation and incidence of pneumonia. All recipients received standard prophylactic anti-bacterial coverage. Patients not surviving 30 days (n = 3) were excluded from this study, but none had evidence of pneumonia either by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), transbronchial biopsy or autopsy.
Results: Fourteen (16%) of our 87 recipients developed pneumonia in the first 30 days after transplant. Of the 43 patients with a positive DGS, 5 (12%) developed pneumonia, compared to 9 of 44 (20%) with a negative DGS (p = 0.26). The mean post-operative P/F ratio (315 +/- 47 with a positive DGS, p = 0.3) and length of mechanical ventilation (2 days in each group) did not differ significantly between the negative and positive DGS groups.
Conclusions: In the current era of lung transplantation, DGS does not predict the development of early post-operative pneumonia and does not affect oxygenation or duration of mechanical ventilation; therefore, its role should be diminished when judging donor lung suitability.