What do you mean by Lung transplant?
A lung transplant is a surgical procedure that involves replacing a diseased or failing lung with a healthy lung from a deceased donor. People who have tried medications or other treatments but whose conditions have not improved sufficiently are candidates for a lung transplant. A lung transplant may involve replacing one or both of your lungs, depending on your medical condition. In some cases, the lungs are transplanted alongside a donor heart. While a lung transplant is a major surgery with many risks, it can significantly improve your health and quality of life.
Why would a person require a Lung transplant?
When your lungs are unhealthy or damaged, it can be difficult for your body to get the oxygen it requires to survive. A number of diseases and conditions can harm your lungs and prevent them from working properly. Some of the more common causes include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
- High blood pressure in the lungs
- Cystic fibrosis
- Scarring of the lungs
Medication or special breathing devices are frequently used to treat lung damage. When these measures no longer help or your lung function becomes life-threatening, your doctor may recommend a single-lung or double-lung transplant.
What is the risk associated with a Lung transplant?
Complications from a lung transplant can be severe, and in some cases fatal.
Significant dangers include rejection and infection:
Your immune system protects your body from foreign substances. Even if you and the donor are a perfect match, your immune system will try to attack and reject your new lung or lungs. The risk of rejection is greatest immediately after the lung transplant and decreases over time. Your post-transplant medication regimen will include immunosuppressant medications to suppress your immune system in order to prevent organ rejection. You take these anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life
Anti-rejection medications suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections, especially in your lungs.
For infection prevention, your doctor may suggest following:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Brush your teeth and gums on a regular basis. Avoid contact with pets and cleaning pet areas.
- Keep your skin free of scratches and sores caused by razors or nail files.
- Utensils should not be shared.
- Avoid crowds and sick people.
- Get the necessary vaccinations.
What can you expect before the Lung transplant procedure?
Before receiving a lung transplant, you must undergo a comprehensive pre-transplant screening. The first step in determining whether a lung transplant is the best treatment for you is a pre-transplant screening. A special healthcare provider known as a transplant coordinator will gather medical information about you and your condition. This includes
Waiting for an organ donor
If you’re a lung transplant candidate, the transplant center will register you and put you on a waiting list. Lung transplant candidates outnumber donated lungs. Some transplant candidates die. Your health care team will monitor and adjust your treatment while you’re on the waiting list. Your doctor may suggest diet, exercise, and tobacco cessation. While waiting for a donor lung, your doctors may suggest pulmonary rehabilitation. Pre- and post-transplant pulmonary rehabilitation can improve your health and daily life.
Immediately prior to your transplant surgery
You must act quickly when a suitable donor becomes available, which may take months or years. Make sure the transplant team knows how to reach you at all times. Keep your hospital bag with a 24-hour medication supply and arrange transportation to the transplant center in advance. You may be expected to arrive at the hospital within just a few hours. You’ll be tested at the hospital to make sure the lung matches and you’re healthy enough for surgery. The transplant team will reject a sick donor lung. The transplant will be canceled if it doesn’t appear that the surgery will be a success.
What experiences do you encounter during a Lung transplant procedure?
The procedure will be performed under general anesthesia, so you will be completely unaware and will not feel any pain. To allow you to breathe, a tube will be guided through your mouth and into your windpipe. To remove your damaged lung, your surgeon will make a cut in your chest. The donor lung will then be connected to the lung’s main airway and blood vessels between the lung and the heart. For certain lung transplants, you may be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine that circulates your blood during the operation.
What experiences do you encounter after a Lung transplant procedure is done?
You will spend several days in the hospital’s intensive care unit following surgery (ICU). A mechanical ventilator will assist you with breathing for a few days, while chest tubes will drain fluids from around your lungs and heart.
Generally, you’ll need to make long-term adjustments after a lung transplant, such as:
- Immunosuppressants must be taken for life to prevent donor lung rejection.
- Medication, therapy, and lifelong care. Your doctor may provide post-transplant instructions. Take your medications as prescribed. Check your lung function at home as directed by your doctor. Attend follow-ups and follow a lifelong care plan.
- To avoid forgetting, create a medication routine. In case of emergency, carry a list of your medications. Every time you get a new medication, tell your doctors.
- Wellness. Your new lung needs a healthy lifestyle. Your doctor may recommend avoiding tobacco and alcohol. Healthy eating helps too.
- Exercise begins days after your lung transplant and is crucial to recovery. Your healthcare team creates a personalized exercise program. Post-transplant pulmonary rehabilitation may improve your breathing and daily functioning.
What diet and nutrition should you follow after a Lung transplant?
To stay healthy after a lung transplant, you may need to change your diet. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help you avoid complications like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Your dietitian will inform you if any foods may interfere with your medications and will explain how to prepare food safely to reduce the risk of food-borne infection.