Lung Transplant Process
Lung Transplant Evaluation
Our comprehensive evaluation considers your overall health and support system. You will undergo extensive medical testing of your heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal system. You will also meet with a psychologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, social worker, and financial coordinator. We use this lengthy and detailed evaluation to assess whether you will benefit from lung transplantation.
Preparing for a Lung Transplant
If you become a lung transplant candidate, you will spend several weeks participating in supervised exercise and transplant education classes led by our lung transplant team. If you live outside our area, we help you relocate to Durham so you can prepare for the surgery. You and your caregivers will learn about the lung transplant process, the medications you will take, and the recovery process. Read more in our Before Your Lung Transplant guide.
Daily pre-transplant physical therapy is an integral part of our lung transplant program. It is led by respiratory and physical therapists who specialize in preparing people for lung transplant surgery and recovery. They will monitor your oxygen needs, teach you breathing and stretching techniques to help you after transplant, and lead you in exercise to build up your body in preparation for surgery. The stronger you are before the transplant, the better your chance of getting through the surgery without significant complications.
Early on, you will need to focus all your efforts on rebuilding your strength and adjusting to your new lungs. Your transplant caregivers will organize your medications, make sure you are taking them correctly, and get you to and from all of your medical and physical therapy appointments. Your caregivers are vital partners in your transplant and recovery. We include them in the pre-transplant educational program so that, together, you and your caregivers will be prepared for the transplant process and your new life after transplant.
Lung Transplant Waitlist
When the time is right, your name will be added to the waitlist for a lung transplant. This is the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to allocate donor lungs in the United States. Being “on the list” means our surgeons are looking for suitable lungs for you. Lungs are allocated based on blood type, distance from donor hospital, and lung allocation score. Our surgeons then look at the details of the donor to decide if the lungs are right for you. Unfortunately, not everyone listed for a transplant will receive one, since there are not enough organs available for transplant. However, our rates of death on the waitlist are some of the lowest in the country.