Entries in Lungs (8)


Woman Dies After Receiving Smoker's Lungs in Transplant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jennifer Wederell, a 27-year-old British woman with cystic fibrosis, died of lung cancer after she received the lungs of a heavy smoker in an organ transplant.

According to BBC News, Wederell had been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for 18 months when in April 2011, she was told there was finally a match.  She received the transplant, apparently not knowing the donor had been a smoker.

In February 2012, a malignant mass was found in her lungs.  She died less than 16 months after the transplant.

Her father, Colin Grannell, said he believed his daughter had died a death meant for someone else.

"The shock immediately turned to anger insofar as all the risks were explained in the hour before her transplant," he told the BBC, "and not once was the fact smoker's lungs would be used mentioned."

Wederell's case raises difficult issues regarding organ transplants.  She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a progressive and debilitating lung disease that affects more than 70,000 people worldwide, at the age of 2.  By her mid-20s, she relied on an oxygen tank 24 hours a day to survive.

Would she have been better off refusing the transplant, and hoping another set of organs became available that matched her blood type and came from a non-smoker?

"Probably not," said Dr. G. Alexander Patterson, surgical director of lung transplants at the Washington University and Barnes Jewish transplant center in St. Louis, one of the largest organ transplant programs in the nation.  "If she was critically ill and had poor chance of short-term survival, she was better off accepting the transplant."

Patterson said most hospitals, including those in the U.S., also transplant the lungs of smokers if they are of otherwise good quality.

"This is a necessity because there are far fewer donors than there are recipients and most patients who are on a waiting list would gladly accept a set of smoker's lungs in exchange for the ones they have, which usually have little chance of carrying them through to long-term survival," he said.

About 17,000 Americans receive a transplant each year, and more than 4,600 die waiting for one, according to United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization charged with allocating the nation's organs.  If surgeons do not accept less-than-perfect organs, Patterson said that the numbers might be much worse.

Harefield Hospital in London, where Wederell was treated, has since apologized to her family for not revealing all the information about her donor's medical history.  But Patterson said most transplant surgeons don't share such details with their patients unless they are asked directly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nelson Mandela’s Lung Infection Could Be Pneumonia

WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection, a term often used synonymously with pneumonia.

Elderly people are at an increased risk for infections in general -- more so if the person has many chronic medical problems.  As people age, their immune systems are less capable of fighting off infections.

South African officials say Mandela’s lung infection is “recurring.”   The former president is 94 years old.

As elderly people become more and more infirm, they have a decreased cough response and may aspirate oral secretions into their lungs, raising the risk of infections.  And if someone is bedridden, their breaths become more shallow, raising the risk even more.

It may seem surprising that it took so long for Mandela’s diagnosis to be made public.  However, it’s possible that it took this long to make a diagnosis.

Elderly people respond differently to pneumonia, meaning they might lack common symptoms like fever and cough, and instead show signs of confusion.  The evaluation of change in physical or mental condition in someone of Mandela’s age is broad, with much testing needed to make a diagnosis.

There are different types of pneumonia including viral (caused by influenza), bacterial (caused by pneumococcus or tuberculosis), fungal and parasitic.  

ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser suspects Mandela most likely has a viral or bacterial pneumonia.  If he does, they are likely treating him with antibiotics and providing respiratory support.

Pneumonia is a leading infectious cause of death in the elderly.  But with proper treatment, many do recover.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Kids with Healthy Hearts and Lungs Get Better Grades?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- It's August already and as summer vacation winds down toward the new school term, a new study reveals the link between good grades and good health. Students with healthy hearts and lungs fare better in math and reading, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention.
Researchers studied some 1,200 students from five Texas middle schools whose average age was 12. The participants were evaluated for cardio-vascular fitness, academic performance, self-esteem and social support.
The study authors found that the only consistent factor that had a positive effect on their grades was cardio-vascular fitness.   

“Cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor that we consistently found to have an impact on both boys’ and girls’ grades on reading and math tests,” study co-author Trent A. Petrie, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas said in a statement. “This provides more evidence that schools need to re-examine any policies that have limited students’ involvement in physical education classes.”
The study also showed that students perform better in reading when family and friends provide reliable social support to help in problem solving and dealing with emotions.  The results were not the same for math, however, where cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor related to positive performance.

Though the study does not show a clear causal relationship between fitness and academics (students who are motivated to be physically fit could actually just be students who possess academic motivation as well), the authors conclude that the relationship of physical fitness and academic performance is one that is independent of other factors, and schools should work to develop better fitness programs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Smokers Lungs Offer Survival Advantage

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Patients who underwent lung transplants lived an additional three years compared with patients who never received donor organs, even if the lungs they received came from people who had previously smoked, according to a new British study published in the Lancet.

Researchers led by Dr. Robert Bonser of University Hospital Birmingham analyzed how donor smoking history affected three-year survival rates using patients on the U.K. Transplant Registry between 1999 and 2010.

About 39 percent of the 1,295 lung transplants used lungs from donors who had previously smoked.  While the three-year survival rate for these transplant recipients was lower than for people who received lungs from nonsmokers and had more complications, survival was still better than for people who had never had transplants at all.

Their findings, the authors wrote, support a policy of accepting lungs from people with smoking histories.

“Donors with positive smoking histories provide nearly 40 percent of the lungs available for transplantation,” they wrote. “Rejection of this donor-organ resource would increase waiting-list mortality and is ill advised.

In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Marcelo Cypel and Shaf Keshavjee of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program explained that the risks and benefits of lungs from donors who smoked varied by country and transplant center.

In the U.S., the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the country’s organ transplant system, instituted a lung allocation system designed to make better use of the few donated organs available and to reduce the number of people who die while waiting for a transplant.

Each person on the waiting list is given a score indicating how severely ill the person is and how likely it is for a transplant to succeed.  The scores are used to determine priority once an organ becomes available.

This program, Cypel and Keshavjee wrote, “reduced mortality of patients on the waiting list without a substantial increase in lung donors.”

And while Bonser and his co-authors believe that lungs from donors who smoked shouldn’t necessarily be rejected, they recommend that patients “be informed that the use of such lungs could reduce their lifetime.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Delayed Drowning: Man Dies Hours After Pulling Himself from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 60-year-old man fell into New York’s Long Island Sound, pulled himself out, and then died several hours later, apparently of drowning.  Emergency doctors Tuesday called it a case of secondary drowning, something very unusual.

The man, Tommy Mollo of Yonkers, N.Y., fell off the back of a friend’s boat Saturday morning while helping to move it between slips at a marina in nearby New Rochelle, WABC-TV reported. Mollo returned to his apartment and told his wife he felt ill. She called 911 and emergency workers took Mollo to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m., the station reported.

An ER doctor told the station that water got into Mollo’s lungs when he fell overboard, which led to subsequent breathing difficulties that could have been exacerbated by medical issues he already had.

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Mollo’s case represents a rare occurrence of a relatively rare phenomenon, beginning with his self-rescue, emergency room doctors said.

Secondary drowning typically occurs “when one is immersed in water, they almost drown, water successfully enters the lungs, and then they are rescued,” said Dr. Gabe Wilson, associate director of emergency medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “Conceivably water could be inhaled while one still had the means to pull themselves out, but it would certainly be a rare occurrence as usually panic sets in by then.”

Wilson cited one study that showed secondary drownings make up five percent of overall drownings in children and teens. "There is no great data for adults,” he told ABC News.

The lag between the time water enters the lungs and begins to cause problems can range from one to 48 hours, he said: “Because onset can be rapid, it is not known whether there are predictable warning signs.” As a result, anyone who experiences an episode of near-drowning should be evaluated in an emergency department and “possibly observed for 24 hours,” Wilson said.

Lung damage from secondary drowning occurs when water comes into direct contact with the cells lining the lungs, interfering with their ability to supply needed oxygen to the body and to take away carbon dioxide, a gaseous waste product.

This damage can be particularly severe when delicate lung tissues are flooded with salty ocean water, like that of Long Island Sound. The water “tends to pull fluid from the body into the lungs,” said Dr. Larry Baraff, associate director of the emergency department at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. When fluid moves into the lungs, it “takes up space where the air would be.”

In Mollo’s case, he said, "It’s conceivable that the drowning episode and lack of oxygen led to a heart problem, like a cardiac arrhythmia or a myocardial infarct (heart attack).”

However, he said secondary drownings are survivable with fast-enough medical attention.

“If you make it to the hospital alive, it’s very unusual to die from drowning,” Baraff said. Survivors of near-drownings who arrive at the ER in what seems to be good shape will undergo monitoring “just to make sure they don’t get worse.”

Those who are in distress can be put on a ventilator. Doctors then use pressure to “force fluid out of the lungs so oxygen can get back in.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bride Races Against Cystic Fibrosis to Get to the Altar

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors said Kirstie Mills Tancock may not make it to the alter without a new set of lungs.

The 21-year-old from Devon in the United Kingdom has cystic fibrosis, and just days before her dream wedding last year, her lungs filled with a life-threatening infection.

"I have spent every moment living like it was my last," said Tancock, who, until her health spiraled downward, was a fit athlete and worked as a pole dance instructor.

"I take life as it comes," she said.  "You never know what's going to happen.  Just because you know your life will end doesn't mean you have control."

Television cameras followed Tancock for four months last year as she simultaneously planned her wedding and waited for a lung transplant.  Breathless Bride: Dying to Live will air on TLC on Feb. 29 at 10 p.m. EST.

In the documentary, Tancock was confined to a wheelchair and hooked up around the clock to an IV for strong pain medication and antibiotics.  Just days after her June 16 wedding, she was medevaced to a London hospital for a lifesaving double lung transplant.

"Kirstie is a complete fighter," said her husband Stuart Tancock, 27, and a sports store manager, in the documentary.  "You can't put her down.  She'll fight for anything."

From a young age, Kirstie Tancock knew she was living on borrowed time.  She was born with cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.  About 30,000 children and adults in the United States have the disease.

Close to 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and about one in three people with the disease will die waiting for a lung transplant.

A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening infections, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  The disease also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

Only a half century ago, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school.  Today, medical advances have extended the average life span of someone with CF well into their 30s and 40s.

According to the CF Patient Registry, nearly 1,600 people with the disease have received lung transplants since 1991.  As many as 90 percent are alive one year after transplantation and half are still living after five years. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why So Many Vocal Cord Surgeries for Award-Winning Singers?

Kevin Mazur/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- For some of today's most powerful young singers, vocal cord issues have them "rolling in the deep."

The health of singing sensation Adele's raspy voice, which propelled her into superstardom and has made her a favorite to sweep the Grammys next month, was threatened last year. Weeks after her Sept. 22 concert at Albert Hall in London, the singer/songwriter had surgery to repair her vocal cords and save her career. She hasn't sung publically since her surgery.

But the 23-year-old isn't the only young singer to go under the knife to help save her voice. John Mayer, 34, was operated on last year, as was 44-year-old country star Keith Urban.

Singers are suffering from polyps, nodules and even hemorrhaging in their throats, the kind of severe damage that can shut down any booming voice, according to Dr. Shawn Nasseri, an otolaryngologist in Beverly Hills who treats many of the biggest money-making singers in the music business today.

It takes the coordination of the lungs, diaphragm, neck, voice box, throat and mouth to produce a voice, but it's when the vocal cords are brought together and vibrate that a pitch and tone are produced. Nasseri said for a singer suffering from a hemorrhaging polyp on their vocal cords, similar to what Adele had, the polyp can keep the two vocal cords from meeting and give the person "absolutely no voice."

Nasseri said these kinds of injuries are not attributed to genetics, but happen because of a specific vocal technique that singers are doing wrong -- forcing or straining their voice when they should be resting it.

"It's like if you have a bruised, swollen ankle and you want to go run 10 miles, that's exactly when you're going to have trouble," he said.

Problems are easily developed when high demands are placed on popular singers by the new realities of the music business, which is now so dependent on touring, traveling and keeping an active public profile.

And it's not just the career demands that can take its toll on singers, but also lifestyle choices -- cigarettes, alcohol and even acid reflux can cause long-term voice problems.

Soul singer John Legend, 33, said he has grown mindful of the importance of looking after his voice.

"I've certainly been no stranger to having issues with my voice," he said. "My first year performing was the worst year because I didn't know how to pace myself, and once I started to understand how it worked, I started to pace myself better."

When the vocal cords are damaged, Nasseri said minimally invasive surgery, the type Adele underwent, heals wounds with minimal risk.

"But we always use surgery as a last option, because everyone knows about Julie Andrews' voice," he said.

Andrews, the star of the original "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins" films, lost her singing voice after a 1997 surgery. Her story remains a cautionary tale to other musicians. Recording artist Celeste Prince is slowly making a comeback after, she said, vocal problems and subsequent surgery ruined her signature raspy sound and threatened her career. Since her recovery Prince said she was "relieved" to get her voice back.

Vocal coach Roger Love, who has worked with almost everyone in the music business from Gwen Stefani to Def Leppard, said he prefers to heal damaged vocal cords without surgery.

"Why would anyone want surgery?" Love said. "If I tell the artist that I can eliminate those calluses that are on their cords by teaching them how to sing better, who's going to take the knife? In my view the vocal cords are never better after surgery."

Love said he will lay down the law of good vocal practice with his top-tier singing clients, starting with proper vocal warm-up exercises before shows.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sitting for Prolonged Time Increases Risk for Lung Blood Clots

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Sitting for long periods of time has already been associated with increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as elevated cholesterol, increased BMI and waist circumference, and increased levels of biomarkers of inflammation. Now, add lung blood clots to the list.

In a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed medical records from almost 70,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1990 to 2008 and found that those who sat for about six hours per day had more than double the risk of lung blood clots than women who sat for an average of two hours each day.

It is worth noting that the actual rate of lung blood clots increased from 0.04 percent in the most active women to 0.1 percent in the least active ones, making the actual risk of lung blood clots from sitting very, very small.

However, the authors still state that “interventions that decrease time sitting could lower the risk of pulmonary embolism [lung blood clots].”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio