Lung Transplant - Overview

Lung transplant is surgical procedure to transplant a diseased lung or a failing lung and replace it with a healthy lung. Lung transplants are used to improve the quality of life and help the patients to breathe easily and extend the lifespan for people who have severe or advanced chronic lung conditions.

A lung transplant may involve replacing one lung or for both. It can be done on people of almost all ages from newborns to adults up to age 65.

Lung Transplant - Symptoms

Your doctor may recommend you a Lung transplant when the lung is failing because of any of the below-mentioned disease:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): This is one of the most prevalent reasons for a lung transplant in adults. It is a progressive and incurable disease, but with the right diagnosis and treatment, there are many things you can do to manage your COPD and breathe better. It is a disease that gets worse with time and causes great difficulty in breathing.
  • AAT Deficiency (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency): In this condition, the risk of lung disease is increased, particularly because of smoking.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension: It is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: This is a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. This commonly occurs in children where sticky, thick mucus is formed in the lung which causes repeated and grave lung infections.
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: This is yet another type of chronic lung disease characterized by a progressive and irreversible decline in lung function. In this condition, the tissues of the lungs become stiff, thick or scarred over time.

Lung Transplant - Pre-Procedure

Your doctor will recommend a few tests before the surgery to assess whether you are medically fit to take the operation or not. Some of these tests include:

  • Blood tests are recommended to check the infections
  • Colonoscopy, Pap smear, etc.
  • Echocardiogram, Cardiac catheterization, etc. to assess your heart condition

Before the surgery you will be asked to stop smoking and drinking alcohol and do not put on weight. Follow your exercise regime which you learned during pulmonary rehabilitation.

Lung Transplant - During Procedure

First the transplant team will explain the procedure in detail and resolve any other queries the patient might have. The patient is advised to stop eating or drinking for 8 hours before the surgery. The following steps will happen once the operation begins. The patient is give general anesthesia to make him sleep. The surgery takes approx 4 to 8 to last. There will be Incubation that will be put in the neck, wrist, under the collarbone (subclavian) or the groin which will help the patient breathe, provide medication and help with other bodily functions. These tubes are also used to monitor your heart and blood pressure, and to take blood samples. Following that the surgeon will make an incision in the chest to assess the main airway and replace the deceased lung with the donor’s lung. After replacing the lung the surgeon will connect the healthy donor lung, reconnect the blood vessels, and close the chest. In some of the cases, a double lung transplant is required; in that case, a heart-lung bypass machine will be connected to you.

Lung Transplant - Post-Procedure

Post-Lung Transplantation the patient will be closely monitored in ICU for about 3 to 5 days. The patient is placed on a ventilator to help the patient breathe effectively. There’s a tube in the chest, inserted during the procedure that further helps the patient in draining fluids from lungs and heart. Usually the patient gets discharged in 10 to 15 days after the surgery. Later, the patient is asked to have frequent consultations along with a few other tests like blood tests, chest X-Ray, ECG for almost 3 months. Smoking and alcohol consumption are strictly disallowed to the patient. Other Immunosuppressant’s and blood thinning medications are give that have to be taken for the rest of the life.

Lung Transplant - Risk & Complications

Liver transplant is a complex surgery and it involves several risks and complications. Major risks include:

  • High BP and cholesterol
  • Rejection of new lung by the body
  • Diarrhea
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • In rare cases, cancer
  • Kidney damage

Lung Transplant - Doctors

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