The number of people needing lung transplants far exceeds the number of donated lungs available. When a donor organ becomes available, the donor-recipient matching system administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) finds an appropriate match based on specific criteria, including:
- Blood type
- Size of organ compared with chest cavity
- Geographic distance between donor organ and transplant recipient
- Severity of the recipient's lung disease
- Recipient's overall health
- Likelihood that the transplant will be successful
While you wait
It may take months or even years before a suitable donor becomes available, but you must be prepared to act quickly when one does. Make sure the transplant team knows how to reach you at all times.
Keep your packed hospital bag handy — including an extra 24-hour supply of your medications — and arrange transportation to the transplant center in advance. You may be expected to arrive at the hospital within just a few hours.
At the hospital
Once you arrive at the hospital, you will undergo tests to make sure the lung is a good match and that you are healthy enough to have the surgery. The donor lung also must be healthy or it will be declined by the transplant team. The transplant will be canceled if it doesn't appear that the surgery will be a success.
Feb. 12, 2015
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- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. About your lung transplant. Rochester, Minn.; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research: 2006.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 7, 2014.
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- Partnering with your transplant team: The patient's guide to transplantation. United Network for Organ Sharing. http://www.unos.org/donation/index.php?topic=patient_brochures. Accessed June 7, 2014.
- Hachem RR. Lung transplantation: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 9, 2014.