Heart, heart-lung and lung transplant recipients can have successful pregnancies

Women who have received a heart, heart-lung or lung transplant are having successful pregnancies after transplantation, according to a study by researchers at Jefferson Medical College.

While such pregnancies are considered “high risk,” the results are encouraging, says Vincent Armenti, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

The researchers compiled information through the National Pregnancy Transplantation Registry, which is based at Jefferson, from 25 transplant centers nationwide on the pregnancy outcomes of 42 female organ recipients, including 27 heart, 3 heart-lung and 12 lung transplants. There were 64 pregnancies and 43 births.

Though there were no newborn deaths, Dr. Armenti notes that two children inherited a heart problem – mitochondrial cardiomyopathy – from the mother. Of the three groups, lung transplant patients seemed to be at the highest risk for complications during pregnancy.

According to Dr. Armenti, in the last 11 years of studying solid organ transplant groups, women have consistently had mostly successful pregnancies with no particular pattern of birth defects. He notes, however, that higher percentages of such babies are premature or at low birth weight. He adds that mothers who have health problems going into a pregnancy generally are at greater risk to have some deterioration in health.

“Some transplant centers have advocated waiting at least two years to become pregnant until the organ graft function is stable and the recipient can be better counseled and plan for the pregnancy,” says surgery resident Scott. Cowan, M.D., of Jefferson Medical College, who presents the team’s findings August 30 at the XIX International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Miami.

Dr. Armenti hopes that by gathering such information through the registry, doctors will be able to develop patient profiles.

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