The fate of patients on the waiting list for lung transplantation in Korea

Transplant Proc. 2012 May;44(4):865-9. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2011.12.059.


Lung transplantation for end-stage lung disease results in prolonged actuarial survival and improved pulmonary function. However, the shortage of donor lungs has been a major limiting factor in transplantation. The purpose of this study was to analyze the waiting time and mortality rate for each disease entity. The medical records of all patients listed in The Korean Network for Organ Sharing (KONOS) from May 1996 to May 2011 were analyzed to identify waiting times and causes of death. During the study period, 146 patients (86 males and 60 females) of mean age of 46.6 years (range; 5 to 73 years) showed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF; n = 61), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; n = 19) or bronchiectasis (n = 15). Sixty-five patients (44.5%) underwent lung or heart-lung transplantation. Sixty-two patients (42.5%) expired during the waiting period, and 19 patients are still on the waiting list. The mortality rate while waiting was highest among patients with primary pulmonary hypertension (62.5%) followed by IPF (57.4%), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (55.6%). The mean time from diagnosis to registration in KONOS was 15.5 months among the expired and 13.2 months in the transplanted group (P = .455). The mean time on waiting list was 8.2 months in the expired group and 3.7 months in the transplanted group (P = .012). In the expired group, the mean survival time was significantly shorter among patients with ARDS (2.2 months, P = .004) compared to IPF (7.9 months), COPD (10.7 months), and primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) (30.0 months). The high mortality rate (42.5%) during the waiting period in Korea may result from the lack of donors and the delay in registration.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / mortality*
  • Lung Diseases / surgery*
  • Lung Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Lung Transplantation* / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Registries
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution*
  • Waiting Lists / mortality*
  • Young Adult