Several patients don’t want to be operated on at night for fear that more mistakes happen due to fatigue and stress. If you are a lung or heart transplant patient you don’t have to worry anymore. A study that came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) is proving that there is no more risk at night than daytime for organ transplant surgery. It suggests the reason being that the transplant team is used to it and has found ways to cope with lack of sleep and the pressure of doing transplant surgery.
I have seen quite a few surgeons working at night and let me tell you when they are in the operating room, it does not matter what time it is, the time stop and they just perform. Trust me though, if they have to choose between 2 pm and 2am the surgeons would all pick 2pm just like most of us would.
The study was done over 10 years involving more than 27,000 patients who underwent thoracic organ transplantation (heart or lungs) in the US. There was no difference in term of survival one year after transplant. The only hiccup for night time surgery was a slightly increased incidence of airway dehiscence. This is explained by having an air leak where the news lungs and patient’s bronchus are stapled together. It can happen because a staple failed, wound healing delay, etc and usually requires going back to the operating room.
The bottom line is when a thoracic surgeon signs up for organ transplant surgery; they expect to be working at anytime of the day or night. They are mentally prepared for it and just do what needs to be done. They better too because most of the transplant are night time anyway especially due to operating room availability at the donor hospital. They always schedule the donor cases after business hours. It is a bonus for us if it can be done during the day.