A lung transplant is a surgical procedure to replace diseased lungs with healthy lungs. It’s a treatment that can improve quality of life— e.g., your ability to breathe as well as be active—for individuals who have extreme or advanced chronic lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis. Prior receiving a lung transplant, potential recipients need to undergo a process that includes evaluation as well as scoring. Once accepted, they are placed on a waiting list, followed, hopefully, by transplant surgery and life after surgery. It’s a major operation that has major risks, and there are some things to consider before and after the transplantation.
Here are top 4 things to consider when you’re thinking of a lung transplant:
You must be in the best shape before going for your transplant.
It might seem crazy to say this as you are sick and fighting for your life, but workout as much as you can, stay as fit as you can. The powerful you are, the faster you will recover.
While every patient’s recovery time is different, being physically healthy is just not enough to undergo a transplant.
Your emotional health is necessary.
Usually, patients preparing for transplant have either been living with a chronic condition for a quite a long time or have been diagnosed with a serious illness. It’s quite common to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Be patient with yourself, and the procedure. The transplant requires close follow-up and it can take a little time to return to your normal day-to-day routine. Adjust the way you do things so that they continue to be safe in your recovery period. Do things that bring you joy. Listening to a certain kind of music, watching your favorite picture. Set up your recovery environment post-surgery to make it easier for you to access the things you love and enjoy doing after the surgery.
You might have to travel to another city to get a lung transplant done.
Hospitals that perform lung transplants are located throughout the country, but it’s possible you’ll have to travel to get to your transplant center. In addition to insurance and financial needs, you have to think about things like how you’re getting there and where you’ll stay. When you’re on a waiting list, you need to ensure that you are close to the transplant center and always available. You never know when you might get a call from your transplant surgeons and might be they have only about 4-6 hours to complete the transplant operation after the donor’s lungs are procured.
After your transplant, you’ll need to stay nearby for some time. “The first few weeks and months are crucial, after the lung transplant operation and balancing the multiple medications needed to prevent or treat episodes of infection and/or rejection is difficult. Most centers will direct your care for the first year after transplantation. During this time, they will help you get a provider network closer to your home to collaborate on the longer-term care needed to maintain good function of your new lungs.
New techniques are being used to help address the shortage of donor lungs.
Every donor’s lungs are not suitable for transplantation, and right now, only about 28 percent of donor’s lungs fulfill the criteria which is needed to be used for a transplant.
The good news is that researchers are finding ways to increase the number of donor’s lungs. There’s a new technique known as ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) that can improve “marginal” donor lungs (lungs that don’t meet transplant criteria) so they can reach the standards for transplantation.