Steps towards a lung transplant
This outlines the entire lung transplant process
- Your lung doctor will discuss your options with you and arrange any transplant tests
- It may take a long time to match you to a suitable donor, and sometimes a donor cannot be found
- A transplant is a major operation and complications can arise during and after surgery
- After a transplant, you will need to take daily medicines for as long as the transplant continues to work
1. Discuss your options with a doctor
Your lung doctor will be able to advise on whether a lung transplant is the right treatment for you. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you, along with possible alternative treatments.
Having a lung transplant is a big decision and every patient's case is unique. You will need to take daily medicines for as long as the lung transplant continues to work and there is a chance the transplant will fail. But if it does function, a transplant is the most effective treatment for lung failure.
2. Tests to see if you’re suitable for a lung transplant
If your doctor thinks a lung transplant is a possible treatment, they will arrange for you to have a series of tests.
These are to find out whether your body can cope with the surgery and whether you have certain antibodies, which could make it more likely for your body to reject the transplant.
3. Waiting for a lung
This can be a lengthy process as it relies on matching you with a compatible donor.
To receive a lung from a deceased donor you will need to go on the national transplant list and wait to be matched with a suitable lung. If you are offered a lung, your transplant team will let you know of the risks from the donated organ.
4. Being admitted to the transplant centre
If you and your transplant team decide to accept an offered lung, you will be asked to come to the transplant centre.
You’ll have tests to check the surgery can go ahead. Your surgeon will explain how the operation will be performed and discuss the risks and benefits. The lung will be checked to make sure it is suitable for transplantation.
5. Having lung transplant surgery
A lung transplant is a major operation that lasts between 6-8 hours. Donor lungs are transplanted in the same place in your chest as your old lungs. Plastic tubes will be inserted into your neck and arms for administering fluids and medicines. You will also be given a catheter tube to remove urine from you bladder. These tubes will be taken out a later date.
6. After a lung transplant
You will need to stay in hospital for 2-3 weeks. Most transplanted lungs start working within hours of the operation. Your transplant team will monitor your progress and let you know when you can go home.
You will need follow-up appointments at the hospital, and extra support can be arranged at home, if needed. You will also need to take daily medicines to prevent rejection.