Therapies to manage lung conditions while waiting for transplant

Mayo Clinic doctors offer many therapies to help people manage their lung conditions while waiting for lung transplants. You may wait months to years for a lung transplant. Your lung condition may worsen over time, but doctors will work with you to support your lung function while you wait for a transplant.

Doctors offer therapies that may help you manage your condition until a donor lung is available. In a tracheostomy, doctors make a small hole in your throat and into your windpipe (trachea), and insert a breathing tube into the trachea to help you breathe. A machine that helps support your breathing (a mechanical ventilator) may be connected to the breathing tube. If you have a lung transplant or other treatment and you don't need the tracheostomy any longer, your breathing tube will be removed. The hole in your neck usually closes on its own, but doctors sometimes may need to perform surgery to close the hole.

Staff also will work with you in pulmonary rehabilitation to help improve your breathing in daily life activities while you wait for a transplant. The program may help you improve your endurance, strength and flexibility.

You'll also be given lifestyle recommendations, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. You may have medications to help manage your lung condition until you have a lung transplant.