Short adults are much less likely than average-height adults to get a lung transplant, and they're more likely to die while waiting for one, the findings from a new study suggest.
Women are particularly affected by this bias because they tend to be shorter than men, the researchers said.
"Surgeons commonly try to match small transplant candidates with small donor lungs, because they believe it leads to better outcomes," study leader Dr David Lederer, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City, said in a medical centre news release.
Read: World first: penis successfully transplanted in Cape Town
"But the latest evidence indicates that this approach causes short people to get fewer transplants and have worse outcomes. Small recipients can cope with larger lungs, and surgeons can reduce the size of lungs before transplant, with good results.
So, there's no scientific or medical reason for this bias against shorter people," he noted.
The researchers analysed data from more than 13,000 adults who were potential lung transplant patients. They were all placed on the lung transplant waiting list in the United States between 2005 and 2011.
Shorter people under 1.63 metres (five feet, four inches) were 34 percent less likely to receive a transplant than taller folks between 1.70 metres (five feet, seven inches) and 1.77 metres (five feet, nine-and-a-half inches), the study found.
Read: Swedish girl gives birth from her mother’s womb
Shorter patients were 62 percent more likely to die than their taller peers while on the waiting list, and they were also more likely to be removed from the list because their health deteriorated, the study showed. And, shorter adults were 42 percent more likely to suffer respiratory failure while on the waiting list, the study revealed.
"Our data suggest that it may be time to revise how we prioritise transplant candidates, to ensure equal priority is given to people of shorter stature," lead author Jessica Sell, a data analyst at Columbia University Medical Centre, said in the news release.
"Addressing the height disparity might also help correct the gender disparity that is evident in waiting list outcomes as well," she added.
In 2014, 1,880 adults and 45 children had lung transplants in the United States, and almost 2,600 people were added to the waiting list, the researchers said. As of April, 2015, there were more than 1,600 people awaiting a lung transplant, they noted.
Ovarian tissue transplants helping cancer survivors conceive
Organ-Rejection Drug Linked to Higher Cancer Risk After Liver Transplant
Polish doctors perform rare throat-area transplant