Complications associated with a lung transplant can sometimes be fatal. The two major risks are rejection and infection.

Risk of rejection

Your immune system defends your body against foreign substances. Even with the best possible match between you and the donor, your immune system will try to attack and reject your new lung or lungs.

Your drug regimen after transplant will include medications to suppress your immune system in an effort to prevent organ rejection. You'll likely take these anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life.

Side effects of anti-rejection drugs

Anti-rejection drugs may cause noticeable side effects, including:

  • Weight gain
  • A rounder face
  • Acne
  • Facial hair
  • Stomach problems

Some anti-rejection medications can also increase your risk of developing new or aggravating existing conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension

Risk of infection

The anti-rejection drugs suppress your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to infections, particularly in your lungs. To help prevent infections, you should:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Take care of your teeth and gums
  • Protect your skin from scratches and sores
  • Avoid crowds and people who are ill
  • Receive appropriate vaccinations
Feb. 12, 2015