Shah said it would not have been surprising to find the same issues with heart and lung transplants. But Shah's research found that the rate of reoperation was the same regardless of operative time of the day. The team also found that hospital length of stay was the same no matter what time the surgery took place.
The Johns Hopkins researchers reviewed United Network of Organ Sharing data on all adult heart and lung transplants in the United States between January 2000 and June 2010. Of the 16,573 who underwent heart transplants, half were done during the day and half at night. After one year, the survival rate for heart transplants was 88% for daytime recipients and 87.7% for those who got their new hearts at night. Researchers categorized daytime operations as those where the critical portion of the surgery took place during the day. Successful heart transplants can take as many as five to 10 hours to complete, said Shah, a cardiac surgeon.
For the 10,545 lung transplants, roughly half were done during the day and half at night. After one year, 83.8% of those who got their organs during the day were still alive, compared to 82.6% of those who had their surgeries at night.
Shah said the success in heart and lung transplant outcomes, no matter the time of day, is a testament to experienced transplant teams who have learned to effectively perform complex surgeries on sick patients, despite fatigue and emotional stress.