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Lung Transplant: A Surprising Option After Age 65

If you’re in your mid-60s or older and you have end-stage lung disease, you may wonder if you are eligible for a lung transplant. You may worry about being too advanced in age for such a serious surgical procedure.

However, it’s entirely possible, depending on your health status, says pulmonologist Marie Budev, DO, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Lung Transplant Program.

“It’s not a person’s chronological age — the age on paper — but his or her physiological age that counts,” she says.

Aging more gracefully
Some lung transplant centers do consider those who are over age 65 too high a risk for a transplant.

However, there’s also a new trend among some transplant centers — especially centers with higher volumes. They are using transplanting with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) well into their 70s with good results, Dr. Budev says.

Several patients over age 75, including a 78-year-old patient, have received a lung transplant in recent years at Cleveland Clinic, she says.

Today, many people are living longer. As their life expectancy increases, many are also aging more gracefully. For some older adults, major procedures, like a lung transplant, are a viable option.

How do you know if you’re a candidate for a lung transplant?