Lung Transplant

Learn about the lung transplant process and see if a transplant may be right for you.

Lung transplantation is a treatment option for some lung disease patients. A lung transplant is a very serious procedure and it is important to learn as much as you can about the process if you think it might be right for you.

Lung Transplant Process

Step 1

Step 1: Transplant Evaluation

A Black male doctor shakes hands with a female patient wearing a blue tank top. A laptop computer is between them.
  • Your transplant team will evaluate you to see if you are physically and emotionally healthy enough for a transplant. Important factors include being a non-smoker and at a healthy weight.
  • You will need to show the team that you understand the risks and benefits, including appreciating what life might be life after the transplant.
  • Some transplant centers have an upper age cut-off for transplants. If you are very healthy, the transplant center may be flexible with the age limit.
Step 2

Step 2: Lung Allocation Score (LAS)

A person with light skin wearing a stethoscope writes on a piece of paper.
  • If the transplant team agrees that you are candidate for a transplant, you will be given a Lung Allocation Score (LAS). This score is based on many factors such as your age, type and severity of disease and your organ function.
  • The Score determines your place on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list and will be updated based on the most current data after each visit with your pre-transplant team.
Step 3

Step 3: Waiting List Placement

Two older, light skinned women walking down a sidewalk together. The woman on the left has short grey hair and is wearing hoop earrings, a light colored scarf and a pink jacket. She has her hand on the woman on the right's shoulder, who has shoulder length white hair, glasses and is wearing a grey jacket.
  • Waiting for an organ donation is incredibly stressful. Lean on your support network and mental health professionals. Transplant centers may offer pre-transplant support groups.
  • Stay as healthy as you can by eating right, remaining active and attending all of your doctor's appointments.
  • Make sure you are always available and only a short drive away from the transplant center. You never know when you may get a call.
Step 4

Step 4: Transplant Surgery

A light skinned healthcare worker with blue scrubs listens through a stethoscope to the chest of an older female patient laying in a hospital bed.
  • The length and type of surgery depends on whether or not you are having a single or double lung transplant.
  • \Your overall health also impacts how long the surgery will last. Surgery can last anywhere from four to 10 hours.
Step 5

Step 5: Life After Surgery

A female dark skinned healthcare provider in pink scrubs smiles at an older, dark skinned patient with grey hair laying in a hospital bed.
  • After surgery, you will be closely monitored for any complications.
  • You will begin medications, including anti-rejection medications.
  • Each person's recovery timeline is different. Patients can spend several weeks in the hospital. Everyone will adjust to their new lungs and medications differently.
  • You will be given detailed instructions about medications, follow-up appointments, diet and exercise and pain management. It is very important to have members of your support system with you to help you stay organized.

Discuss Your Options

A lung transplant is not an option for all lung disease patients and there are risks as well as benefits. Spend time talking with your doctor so you thoroughly understand all of the steps. Remember, you are not alone. There are several ways you can connect with other people who've had a lung transplant as well and lung disease experts :

  • Call our free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit Lung.org/helpline to talk with a medical professional.
  • Connect with other patients facing lung disease in one of our free online support communities. Visit Lung.org/community to learn more.
  • Join an in-person Better Breathers Club support group. Visit Lung.org/better-breathers to learn more.

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