Lung transplant is an ideal treatment for disorders that has damaged most of the one or both lungs, thereby hampering its functions. It involves the surgical replacement of the diseased or failing one or both lungs with a healthy lung from a donor. It is the best option for patients who have unsuccessfully tried all other treatment modalities including devices for their lung disorder. Let’s first understand little bit about lungs and their functioning before moving to lung transplant.
What are lungs?
Lungs are a pair of spongy and air-filled organs that are vital part of human body. Each lung is located on either side of the chest. The lungs are responsible for breathing in of oxygen and breathing out of carbon dioxide from the body. Lungs are specially designed to facilitate this exchange of gases during normal respiration.
What happens if lungs become diseased?
The lung diseases refer to various disorders that not only affect the lungs, but also its associated organs that enable us to breathe. That is why in every lung disease, breathing problems occur and the body does not get adequate amount of oxygen.
What conditions require Lung Transplant?
Most of the people suffering from severe, end-stage lung disease are candidates of lung transplant. Also, any disorder that damages the lungs to an extent that it could not fulfil the oxygen demands of the various body parts may need a lung transplant for survival. There are a variety of lung disorders that can damage the lungs and hinder their ability to function effectively, like:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- Pulmonary fibrosis or scarring of the lungs
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Cystic fibrosis
- Severe bronchiectasis
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Lung transplant is a major procedure that is done by a team of expert surgeons and doctors. But there is no need to have two donor lungs as one donated lung is enough to replace two failed lungs. This makes it possible to have one lung or a part of lung from a living-donor for lung transplantation. So, the donor lung can come from living donor or a deceased donor.
Living donors: Living donor can be any person who is a non-smoker, healthy and have healthy lungs. As our body can work well even with a single lung, friends or family of the person can choose to donate one lung or a part of lung. This is called living transplant and the donor can live healthily even after donating one of their lung lobes or lungs. But this requires matching of blood and tissue of both the donor and recipient.
Deceased donors: In most of the lung transplants, the donor is a deceased person who was healthy and disease free before death. Lung from a deceased is taken if the person died due to some accident rather than any disease. So, this may take several months to wait for the right donor who is compatible with the recipient.
It is better to have a lung donated by your family member as there are less chances of rejection as compared to a donated lung from an unrelated donor.
Transplant Evaluation Process
Once the patient decides to undergo lung transplant, various tests are done before transplant to ensure the safety of the operation and find out the eligibility of the patient for the transplant. Some of the major tests done are:
- Chest X-ray
- Computed tomography (CT scan) of the chest
- Pulmonary function tests
- Coronary artery catheterization
- Cardiac stress test
- General metabolic laboratory tests
- Coagulation studies
- Complete blood count
- Bone mineral density test
- Pap smear and mammogram (women) etc.
After these tests confirm the eligibility status of the patient, next step is to evaluate both patient and donor for compatibility. This requires following tests:
- Blood Type Testing
- Tissue Typing
These tests are required to match a donor lung to the recipient and transplant is planned only after confirming the match.
The lung transplant surgery takes few hours and is done under general anesthesia. There will be a tube from the mouth to the windpipe so that the recipient can breathe. There will also be a tube from the nose to the stomach to clear stomach contents. A catheter is also placed to clear the urine.
The procedure is done through an incision in the chest. The diseased lung is removed and simultaneously the donor lung is placed at its place and the main airway and blood vessels between the lung and heart are connected to the donor lung. In some cases, a heart-lung bypass machine is used during transplantation to circulate blood during the transplant procedure.
Types of Lung Transplant
The lung transplant surgery can be done for one lung or for both:
- Single lung: Transplant of only one lung.
- Double lung: Transplant of both lungs.
- Bilateral sequential (bilateral single): Transplant of both lungs, but one transplant done at one time.
- Heart-lung transplant:Transplant of both lungs and the heart from a single donor.
- Both donor and recipient will stay in the hospital for few days after transplant. Recipient may need to stay longer.
- There will be a breathing tube in the throat that is connected to a ventilator. This tube remains until the time patient becomes able to breathe on his own.
- The tube in the nose will remain as such after the transplant for few days to remove stomach contents.
- There will be a catheter in the bladder of recipient for a few days
- Patient is given IV feeding through arm or neck vein for a few days.
- Breathing and stomach tubes are removed when patient’s condition stabilizes. Patient may start drinking liquids soon after this and slowly more solid foods are introduced in the diet.
Results of Lung Transplant
After a successful surgery for lung transplant, the first year is crucial as surgical complications, organ rejection or infection may occur. That is why patient is advised to take various medications as prescribed to prevent rejection of donor lung. Also, regular checkup with doctor is must to evaluate the lung functioning and stay healthy.
Benefits of Lung Transplant
- Increases chances of survival and adds years to the life of sufferer
- Freedom from long-term dependence of breathing devices
- Brings back easier breathing
- Very less or no limitations on physical activity
- Allows the person to live a more active life
- Improves quality of life of the person
- Lower treatment cost
Why MedTours Global?
- We are associated with the best hospitals globally having the emergency infrastructure, fully equipped with the latest technologies and techniques to overcome from every emergency condition.
- Our team of doctors are highly experienced in ‘Emergency Patient Management’ and work together to save the patient.
- Consultation from doctors through e-mail, phone, and video calling.
- Rehabilitation programs are organized to assist complex surgery patients.
- Complete support and assistance being given before and after treatment.
- Cost of treatment is quite less as compared to other service providers.
- We are always ready to offer our helping hand and our services are available Free of Cost 24/7.