Lung transplantation: everything you need to know

lung transplant It is a surgery in which one or both of the diseased lungs are replaced with healthy ones.from a deceased donor. It is a complex surgery that significantly improves a person’s quality of life.

The first successful lung transplants were performed in the 1960s by Dr. James Hardy and then by practitioner Denton A. Cooley in 1968. The initial patient was a two-month-old girl with congestive heart failure and recurrent pneumonia.

This type of procedure is done when a person has end-stage lung disease. or some serious disease that has proven resistant to conventional treatments. In any case, the lung transplant candidate must meet certain requirements to be eligible.

Why is lung transplant performed?

Typically, lung transplantation is performed only when all available treatments have been performed to correct the lung failure and have failed. Generally, It is indicated for people under 75 who have a serious pathology In the lungs.

Some of the pathologies that can lead to a transplant of this type are the following:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Pulmonary hypertension.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis.
  • bronchiectasis.
  • Sarcoidosis.
Anatomical model of lungs and heart.
Lung transplantation can be done with just one organ or both.


Lung transplant candidates must meet certain requirements, as well anticipated. Only if they fit are they eligible for the procedure. Among the criteria to be taken into consideration are the following:

  • Age: It is stipulated that the maximum should be 75, even if for over 55 already considered at higher risk.
  • Body mass index: It must not be higher than 35.
  • Risk of dying: it is recommended in patients who have a 50% risk of death in the next two years if the transplant is not performed.
  • High probability of survival after transplantation: based on your general health.
  • Engagements: The transplant recipient must make a firm commitment not to smoke, not to consume psychoactive drugs and to participate in AA pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Persons with an active infection are excluded. Even those who have had cancer in the past two years or have a serious health problem in another organ. Likewise, those who are malnourished or lack a support network to ensure adherence to post-transplant treatment.

Risks of lung transplantation

Lung transplantation is a complex surgery and carries significant risks.. The most important are rejection and infection. The first takes place when the immune system of the patient attacks the transplanted lung(s).

Anti-rejection drugs are used to prevent this from happening, but they can cause side effects, such as weight gain, stomach problems, and facial hair growth. These drugs also increase a person’s chances of developing other diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney failure, and high blood pressure.

As mentioned, after such a transplant, the patient must observe strict hygiene measures and avoid contact with crowds or sick people. Finally, another possible risk is the formation of clots after surgery, due to increased blood clotting.

How is the procedure?

The process of performing a lung transplant begins long before surgery takes place. After a patient has been evaluated and found fit for the procedure, what follows is join a waiting list until there is a donor.

While the transplant candidate waits for the donation, he must follow the medical indications related to his lifestyle. When a lung is available for the procedure, its compatibility with the patient is assessed. If it is adequate, the transplant is performed.


A person on the waiting list for a lung transplant must be ready to attend the doctors call as soon as it occurs. It’s best to have a suitcase packed with personal items and regular medications.

When the candidate arrives at the hospital, they undergo a series of tests. to check compatibility. i also know currency your general state of health. If there are any doubts about this, the procedure can be cancelled. If everything is in order, it will happen almost immediately.


Lung transplant surgery is performed under general anesthesia.. If only one lung needs to be replaced, the procedure takes four to eight hours; if both lungs are transplanted, it can take six to twelve hours.

The procedure to follow is as follows:

  • The extracorporeal circulation system is activated.
  • A cut is made in the side of the chest when only one lung needs to be replaced. If they are both, the cut is made below the chest and reaches both sides of the chest.
  • One or both lungs are removed and the blood vessels and airways of the new organs are attached to the patient’s body.
  • Tubes are inserted to drain air, fluid, and blood from the chest. These will remain there for several days, until the new lungs expand normally.
  • Once the lungs are functioning, the extracorporeal circulation system is removed.


The operated patient must stay in the hospital for a period of between 7 and 21 days. Most commonly, you’ll spend several days in the intensive care unit (ICU) following surgery. However, each medical center has its own protocols.

The first 24-48 hours are crucial. During this period, careful observation is carried out in which, in particular, the functioning of the lungs, heart, kidneys and mental state are evaluated. Likewise, it is verified that there is no added bleeding or hemorrhaging.

X-ray of the lungs.
Lungs may be transplanted based on medical judgment, but patient commitment is essential to the subsequent success of the surgery.


The most common is that the recovery period is extended by six months, In the first place. During the first three, careful monitoring is done to evaluate the function of the lungs and prevent any complications.

In this first phase it is necessary to go frequently to the hospital to perform tests which include radiographs, biopsies, laboratory analyzes and electrocardiograms. The reaction to drugs is also monitored.

After this stage, the patient has to make changes in his life, which include taking immunosuppressants and attending regular therapies and consultations. The first year after a lung transplant is the most critical. After that, all risks start to decrease.

The most common is that there are weekly consultations during the first three months; then quarterly consultations for one year. Then an annual consultation for the next 5-10 years.

What is survival after a lung transplant?

Second available data, the average life span after a lung transplant is 5.8 years. This can vary, depending on the person’s previous illness. Those with cystic fibrosis survive 8 or more years after surgery.

Patients with idiopathic interstitial pneumonitis survive an average of 4.8 years. 32% of those who have had this procedure live 10 years or more. The greatest risk of death occurs during the first 12 months, so that’s where controls are tightened.

Post Lung Transplant: Everything You Need to Know first appeared in research-school.



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