Why it's done

Unhealthy or damaged lungs can make it difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to survive. A variety of diseases and conditions can damage your lungs and hinder their ability to function effectively, including:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
  • Scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis
  • Severe bronchiectasis

Lung damage can often be treated with medication or with special breathing devices. But when these measures no longer help or your lung function becomes life-threatening, your doctor might suggest a single-lung transplant or a double-lung transplant.

Some people with coronary artery disease may need a procedure to restore blood flow to a blocked or narrowed artery in the heart, in addition to a lung transplant. In some cases, people with serious heart and lung conditions may need a heart-lung transplant.

Factors that may affect your eligibility for a lung transplant

A lung transplant isn't the right treatment for everyone. Certain factors may mean you're not a good candidate for a lung transplant. While each case is considered individually by a transplant center, a lung transplant may not be appropriate if you:

  • Have an active infection
  • Have a recent personal medical history of cancer
  • Have serious diseases such as kidney, liver or heart diseases
  • Are unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes necessary to keep your donor lung healthy, such as not drinking alcohol or not smoking
  • Do not have a supportive network of family and friends
Oct. 13, 2016
References
  1. What is a lung transplant? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/lungtxp. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  2. Mason RJ, et al. Lung transplantation. In: Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Lung transplantation. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  4. Goldman L, et al., eds. Interventional and surgical approaches to lung disease. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 7, 2016.
  5. Vincent JL, et al. Lung transplantation. In: Textbook of Critical Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  6. Hachem RR. Lung transplantation: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  7. Hachem RR. Lung transplantation: General guidelines for recipient selection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  8. Partnering with your transplant team: The patient's guide to transplantation. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/learn/patient-education/. Accessed May 11, 2016.
  9. Valapour M, et al. OPTN/SRTR annual data report 2014: Lung. American Journal of Transplantation. 2016;16:141.
  10. Bhorade S, et al. Induction immunosuppression following lung transplantation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  11. Bhorade S, et al. Maintenance immunosuppression following lung transplantation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  12. What every patient needs to know. United Network for Organ Sharing. http://www.transplantliving.org/community/patient-resources/publications/. Accessed May 18, 2016.
  13. Diet and exercise. United Network for Organ Sharing: Transplant living. http://www.transplantliving.org/after-the-transplant/staying-healthy/diet-and-exercise/. Accessed May 13, 2016.
  14. Palmer SM, et al. Bacterial infections following lung transplantation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 13, 2016.
  15. What is pulmonary rehabilitation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pulreh. Accessed July 13, 2016.
  16. Cypel M, et al. Lung transplantation: Procedure and postoperative management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  17. What is bronchoscopy? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bron. Accessed July 19, 2016.
  18. Erasmus DB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 15, 2016.

Connect with others

News, connections and conversations for your health

Recent posts