A study finding no link between socio-economic status and a person's likelihood of recovery from a lung transplant in New Zealand has come as a welcome surprise to researchers.
Instead, post-operative infections, and acute and chronic rejection of the transplanted organ are the most likely indicators of a patient's survival chances.
Auckland City Hospital cardiothoracic surgical registrar Dr Andrei Beliaev says the research looked back at lung cancers cases in the country over the past 23 years.
"We hypothesised that patients of lower socio-economic status may have barriers for obtaining the same health care as those of higher socio-economic status, with resultant reduced long-term survival.
"It was heartening for us to know that our predictions had been wrong and that all patients have as much chance of survival from these operations, and receive the same high quality care."
Data for the study, which has been presented to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' annual scientific congress in Adelaide, came from hospital discharge summaries, outpatient visits, laboratory tests and histology reports.
Dr Beliaev said the demographics of patients requiring lung transplantation were similar to the broader distribution of the New Zealand population.
He said the overall five-year survival rate from a lung transplant was about 50 per cent.
Although this might seem low, most patients were at the final stages of their lung disease and required a transplant to remain alive, a process which in itself involved inherent risk.