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Lung Transplant

Lung transplantation is considered for patients with advanced lung diseases.

Lung transplant is surgery to replace one or both diseased lungs with healthy lungs from a human donor. The team of physicians affiliated with the Lung Transplant Program at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center will provide an extensive evaluation to determine if a transplant is the recommended treatment option.

The Lung Transplant Program partners with the Center for Advanced Heart Failure at the Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center, a recognized national leader in the treatment of advanced cardiothoracic disease. Affiliated physicians, with a long history of clinical excellence, are supported by an exceptional multidisciplinary team of dedicated healthcare professionals. All services are provided in a state-of-the-art facility shared with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

Lung Transplant Team

In addition, highly skilled nurse clinicians from Memorial Hermann guide each transplant candidate through the lung transplant process from pre-surgery preparations to post-surgery follow up. The team believes that communication with, and compassion for, patients and their family members are very important throughout this process.

Also, referring physicians are kept informed about the patient’s progress throughout evaluation and treatment. After a patient’s transplant, referring physicians receive information on follow-up care, including immunosuppression and other medications, pulmonary rehabilitation and any relevant patient information.

Soma Jyothula

Dr. Soma Jyothula, MD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialists

Keshava Rajagopal

Dr. Keshava Rajagopal MD
Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon


Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center
Lung Transplant Program
6400 Medical Plaza
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 704-LUNG tel
(713) 704-9305 fax

Patient Evaluation

The evaluation process for a lung transplant is very comprehensive. A patient will be evaluated by one of the transplant pulmonologists and will undergo a medical, psychological and social evaluation. The pulmonologist will also review past and current medical records and psychosocial information. A team of medical experts will then determine if a lung transplant is the best course of treatment.
 
Numerous tests may be performed during the evaluation and these include a pulmonary function test, cardiac stress test, coronary artery catheterization and a chest X-ray.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Lung Transplant?
Most patients with severe, end-stage lung disease can be considered for a lung transplant, especially when their quality of life is diminished significantly. In most cases, a successful lung transplant can provide years of quality life, and help make an individual’s breathing easier. A lung transplant is performed only after all other treatments for lung failure are unsuccessful.
 
There are guidelines for a self-referral, relating to the most common lung diseases that may benefit from a lung transplant:

  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)/Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) - A patient should be referred as soon as he or she is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. This is a rapidly progressive disease and if a patient waits too long, there might not be enough time to complete an evaluation
  • Emphysema or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - The disease is progressing, despite maximal treatment, including medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, and oxygen therapy.
  •  Pulmonary Hypertension - Advanced physical limitations despite being on maximal medical therapy.
  •  Sarcoidosis - Need for oxygen at rest and progressive decrease in lung function test.
  •  Cystic Fibrosis and Bronchiectasis

Lung Transplant Process, Risk and Recovery

Candidates are placed on the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) list while awaiting transplant. During this time, the transplant team monitors the patient to ensure that his or her condition remains stable. Once a donor lung is identified, the patient will be called to the hospital. A thorough evaluation is done on the donor organ, as well as on the patient.

Lung Transplant Risk

Lung transplantation is a major thoracic surgical procedure and is accompanied by serious risks. Short-term risks may include:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Bleeding
  • Donor organ dysfunction
  • Hyperacute or acute rejection
  • Infection
  • Renal failure

Long-term risks may include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic rejection
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Hypertension
  • Infection

Specific risks and potential benefits of a lung transplant vary for each patient. The Memorial Hermann-affiliated physicians discuss the risks and benefits in detail with each patient and make every attempt to provide a successful outcome while minimizing the risks associated with the procedures.

After the Surgery

Recovery time after a lung transplant varies for each patient. Patients may stay in the hospital from 7 to 21 days, or longer. Some patients spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU) after surgery. The team continues to focus on optimum patient care to provide long-term success.
 
The recovery period usually lasts about six months and may include frequent physician visits and regular tests, such as blood tests.

Prognosis
For many patients, a lung transplant is a life-saving procedure, opening the door to an improved quality of life.
After recovery, the majority of patients do not have limitations on their physical activity.
 
However, fighting rejection is an ongoing process and there may be other complications that will need to be treated.

Lung Disease

At Memorial Hermann, a comprehensive range of treatments for lung disease is available to help manage or cure pulmonary ailments. Read more.