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When organs are in short supply, you should take what you can get. That's the message from a study that looked at more than 2,000 lung transplants in Britain between 1999 and 2010.

The British organ donation program accepts lungs from deceased smokers. In fact, two out of every five lungs are donated by individuals with a history of smoking.

The analysis, published in The Lancet, showed that those who got lungs from smokers were 46 per cent more likely to have died three years after transplantation than those receiving lungs from non-smokers.

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But it didn't pay to reject a smoker's lungs, in the hope that a better option would become available. The picky patients often died on the waiting list.

"Our data show that patients awaiting lung transplantation in the U.K. are likely to survive longer if they are willing to accept lungs from any suitable donor, irrespective of smoking history," the lead researcher, Robert Bonser of the University of Birmingham, said in a statement.

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