During the evaluation, you will meet with a financial counselor to review your insurance coverage and discuss the financial considerations associated with a lung transplant. You will meet with a social worker who will conduct an evaluation to ensure that you and your family are emotionally prepared for the stress that often accompanies the transplant process.
While on the Wait List
Patients accepted by a transplant program are put on a national computer wait list kept by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to ensure that all patients in need of a transplant are given fair access to donor organs. Rules, called allocation policies, have been established to determine how transplant candidates are ranked on the wait list for each type of organ.
Lung patients are prioritized on the wait list based on their lung allocation score (LAS). The LAS is a number scale ranging from 0 (less ill) to 100 (very ill). The higher the LAS, the closer you are to receiving a donor organ. The LAS is calculated using lab values, test results and disease diagnosis.
During the waiting period
Once you are on the list, your wait for a donor organ begins. You need to be ready to receive a transplant from the time you are placed on the list. You will be seen in the transplant clinic every two to three months for labs and follow-up appointments. During the waiting period, you and your caregivers are encouraged to attend our education classes on the transplant process.
The Lung Transplant Surgery
The three major types of lung transplants are categorized by the amount of the organ being transplanted. Partial or lobe transplant occurs when only part of a donor lung is transplanted; in single or double lung transplants, one or two entire lungs are transplanted.
Before your transplant surgery, your anesthesiologist will talk with you and explain what will occur during the surgery. You will be given general anesthesia so you will be asleep during the operation.
You will be in the operating room for approximately 4 to 8 hours.
After Lung Transplant Surgery
After surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit.
The transplant team will help you manage any pain you may experience after surgery. Most patients find their pain decreases within a day or two of surgery. Getting out of bed and walking may help reduce pain.
Your stay in the hospital may last between one or two weeks or as long as your transplant team feels is necessary.
Going Home and Staying Healthy
You will leave the hospital and continue your recovery at home; during the first eight weeks, your daily activities will have some limits, including not lifting anything more than 10 to 15 pounds. You may return to most normal activities within a few months.
Our team will monitor your progress during recovery, so you must be available for clinic appointments, lab tests, pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, CT scans and bronchoscopies so we can determine how well your new lungs are working.
About three years after surgery, you will probably only need to meet with the transplant team twice a year.
To take care of your new lungs for the long term, we will work with you to create a healthy diet and exercise plan – one that will help you regain your strength and reduce the risks of potential diseases that pose a risk to your new lungs.
To read more detailed information about what to expect regarding the general transplant process and what issues you will need to address once you return home after your transplant, click here.
Perhaps the best way to learn about our highly trained transplant specialists at Houston Methodist is through our patients. We invite you to read about their inspiring patient stories and their experience being a transplant patient at Houston Methodist.
- Sharon Harbers was just 36 years old when a double lung transplant gave her a new lease on life.
- Phil Langford was diagnosed with emphysema 10 years ago and was completely dependent on an oxygen machine until a lung transplant at Houston Methodist set him free.
- Jose Erasmo Lopez’s daughter works as a heart and lung transplant surgical technician; she knew Houston Methodist transplant doctors would be the ones to save him.
Our physicians specialize in lung transplantation at the following locations.
Our physicians conduct pre and posttransplant evaluations at the following convenient locations.