A lung transplant involves replacing one (single) or both (double) lungs with a donated organ. It’s a treatment for severe lung disease after all others have failed. Conditions that may require a lung transplant include:
- Antitrypsin deficiency (alpha-1): a metabolic storage disorder that causes emphysema
- Bronchiectasis: permanently enlarged airways that cause excess mucus in the lungs
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema
- Pulmonary fibrosis: tissue scarring around the lung air sacs
- Pulmonary hypertension: high blood pressure in the lung artery
Who is a Candidate?
To decide if a lung transplant is right for you, you will undergo evaluations with your dedicated transplant team. Depending on your condition, you may also see specialists in hematology (blood disorders), psychology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), infectious diseases, nutrition, and others who will advise the team of your condition.
Candidates for a lung transplant meet certain criteria related to physical, emotional, and social health and wellness. There are exceptions, but generally, lung transplant candidates are:
- Likely to lose their life from lung disease within one to two years without a transplant
- Age 65 years or younger (60 years and younger for a double transplant)
- Otherwise healthy
- Supported by family or friends who can assist during recovery
- Understand and can handle the risks and benefits involved in the process
- Diligent and able to keep up with appointments and medicines, and recognize complications
What to Expect
If you’re chosen for a lung transplant, we list you on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). You will receive a lung allocation score (LAS) based on your need.
While you’re on the transplant list, you’ll see your transplant team regularly. When the donor organ becomes available, we’ll contact you with instructions to prepare for the surgery, which will take place within hours.
During the transplant, the surgeon will make an incision, cut away the blood vessels and airways, replace the diseased lung(s), reattach the airways and blood vessels, and close the incision. The procedure takes about six to eight hours for a single lung transplant, and up to 12 hours or more for a double lung transplant.
Recovery in the hospital can take three to four weeks. While you’re in the hospital and after, you’ll participate in a pulmonary rehabilitation program to help you breathe better, cope with recovery, and maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. You will take medicines to reduce the risk of infection and transplant rejection for the rest of your life, and have regular follow-up appointments to ensure a healthy recovery.
Why Choose UHealth?
Part of the Miami Transplant Institute. We’re part of the Miami Transplant Institute, South Florida’s only lung transplant facility, where you can also receive a heart-lung transplant if needed. You can get all your care within one system, with people who know your history and condition.
Researching new and better ways to treat conditions that lead to lung failure. We perform groundbreaking research and clinical trials for dozens of conditions that may require a lung transplant, including antitrypsin deficiency (alpha-1), bronchiectasis, pulmonary fibrosis, and more. You have access to the latest innovations and clinical trials before considering a lung transplant.
Coordinated transplant team is with you every step of the way. From the first time we meet you to well after your surgery, your transplant team — which can include a transplant surgeon, thoracic (chest) surgeon, pulmonologist, cardiologist, nurse coordinator, physical therapist, and social worker — is here for you, day and night. We manage your condition, coordinate your care, answer questions, and assist with everything from insurance and finances to health and wellness.
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