Blood and Tissue Matching

A lung transplant (or heart and lung transplant) can only be successful if the blood and tissue type of the organ donor and the organ recipient match. The onsite Immunogenetics and Transplantation Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai provides state-of-art blood and tissue typing and human leukocyte antigent (HLA) sensitivity analysis.

Blood Typing and Compatibility

All people fit into one of four blood types -- A, B, AB and O. Everyone is compatible with some blood types but not all of them as follows:

  • People with blood type A are compatible with donor organs (or blood) from a person with type A or O blood.
  • People with blood type B are compatible with blood type B or O
  • People with blood type AB are compatible with blood types A, B, AB or O. They are known as universal recipients.
  • People with blood type O are compatible only with organs or blood donated by another type O person. People with type O blood are known as universal donors because all blood types are compatible with type O blood.

If a person receives a lung or a heart from someone with an incompatible blood type, his or her body will recognize the organ as foreign and destroy it.

Tissue Typing and Compatibility

One of the tools the body uses to fight invading foreign substances is human leukocyte antigen (HLA). HLA consists of proteins that regulate the way the body recognizes foreign substances. In HLA-sensitized organ recipients, the patient has developed antibodies to the potential donor's HLA. If an HLA incompatible transplant were to take place, the recipient's immune system would attack the HLA-bearing cells in the donor organ. This would cause the transplanted organ to fail.

People can become sensitized by exposure to foreign substances. This can happen during pregnancy, when a woman is exposed to the foreign tissue from her fetus or through previous organ transplants or blood transfusions.