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Original research
Transplantation for work-related lung disease in the USA


Objectives Work-related lung diseases (WRLDs) are entirely preventable. To assess the impact of WRLDs on the US transplant system, we identified adult lung transplant recipients with a WRLD diagnosis specified at the time of transplant to describe demographic, payer and clinical characteristics of these patients and to assess post-transplant survival.

Methods Using US registry data from 1991 to 2018, we identified lung transplant recipients with WRLDs including coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, silicosis, asbestosis, metal pneumoconiosis and berylliosis.

Results The frequency of WRLD-associated transplants has increased over time. Among 230 lung transplants for WRLD, a majority were performed since 2009; 79 were for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and 78 were for silicosis. Patients with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis were predominantly from West Virginia (n=31), Kentucky (n=23) or Virginia (n=10). States with the highest number of patients with silicosis transplant were Pennsylvania (n=12) and West Virginia (n=8). Patients with metal pneumoconiosis and asbestosis had the lowest and highest mean age at transplant (48.8 and 62.1 years). Median post-transplant survival was 8.2 years for patients with asbestosis, 6.6 years for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and 7.8 years for silicosis. Risk of death among patients with silicosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and asbestosis did not differ when compared with patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Conclusions Lung transplants for WRLDs are increasingly common, indicating a need for primary prevention and surveillance in high-risk occupations. Collection of patient occupational history by the registry could enhance case identification and inform prevention strategies.

  • pneumoconioses
  • transplantation
  • occupational health practice
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