Wang added that not only is a good, older heart transplant candidate just as good as a good, younger candidate, but a good, older donated heart is just as good as a good, younger heart.
The University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta performs the most heart transplantations in Canada each year, Wang said, adding that in 1999 doctors at the U of A Hospital performed a heart transplantation on a 79 year-old man. The patient is the oldest person ever to receive a heart transplant, and he remains in good health today.
"We are very aggressive," Wang said. "We don't give up easily, and yet we still have one of the best success rates in the world."
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 375 Canadians died between 1993 and 2003 while on the waiting list for a donated heart. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients says 494 people died while on the waiting list for a new heart in the U.S. in 2004 alone. "It's always the case that there are more people on the waiting lists than there are available organs because of a shortage of donors," Wang said. "We hope our research will help others see how they can save more patients, young and old."