Reasons you might need a lung transplant

A lung transplant may be an option for people whose lungs are no longer performing their function of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. Generally, lung transplant candidates often require continuous oxygen, are fatigued from lack of oxygen, and have end-stage lung disease.

Pulmonary conditions that can lead to end-stage lung disease can include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
  • Interstitial Lung Diseases
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Types of Lung Transplants

Single Lung Transplant A thoracotomy incision is made on the side of the lung that is being replaced. After surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit where you will sleep for approximately 12-24 hours.

Double Lung Transplant An anterior thoracotomy, or incision will be made from the right side to the left side below the breast area. This is a transverse sternotomy incision. Each lung is replaced separately by removing the lung with the poorest function first. After surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit where you will sleep for approximately 12-24 hours.

Waiting for Lung Transplantation

When approved for a transplant, the medical staff will add your information to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) candidate list. Matching is based on blood group, degree of medical urgency, geographic location and age.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

  • UNOS is the only source for donor organs. The organ sharing network is divided into OPOs or organ procurement organizations. The OPOs represent a certain geographical region.
  • Locally, Scott & White works with the Southwest Transplant Alliance to procure organs for transplant. When unavailable locally, Scott & White can procure organs up to 700 miles away.

Every effort is made to match you with a donor quickly. The wait depends on your blood type and body size. That means you and the donor must have compatible blood types and be height-compatible.

Preparing for transplant surgery

While waiting for your transplant, it is important that you take your medications and are staying as healthy as possible. Your care team will support you in maintaining your nutritional and emotional needs. There is added support for insurance related issues.

Hospitalization and recovery time

You can expect to be hospitalized for two to four weeks. Recovery can take up to eight weeks if there are no other medical complications like infection or organ rejection.


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