After the donor lungs are removed, preserved and packed for transport, they must be transplanted into the recipient(s) within five to six hours. The recipient receives general anesthesia and is placed on a ventilator and bypass machine to oxygenate the blood while the transplant is being performed. The recipient's diseased lung(s) are then removed from the main blood vessel attachments to the heart and bronchus so the new lung(s) can be put in place. Following the completion of all connections, chest tubes are also inserted for drainage, which allows the lungs to function.
Because the length of this surgery is different for every patient, families should talk with the surgeon about what to expect.
Postoperative care begins with a team of heath professionals within the hospital. Careful, comprehensive post-surgical monitoring constantly evaluates whether the body is accepting the new organ. In addition, the amount of time you spend in the recovery room, waking up and getting to the point that you're ready to go home, will vary from patient to patient. Because individual experience after recovery is so unique, it is important to discuss with your physician what to expect after surgery.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on August 1, 2003 by UNOS and last modified on October 10, 2003. The following sources were used as references:
National Library of Medicine, retrieved June 1, 2003.
Salamandra, Johanna, RN, CCTC, CPTC. Ed. Chabalewski, Franki. "Nursing Care of the Lung Transplant Recipient and Family." UNOS Donation and Transplantation Nursing Curriculum. 1996
This Web site is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing the public with general health-related information and convenient access to the data resources. UNOS is not affiliated with any one product nor does UNOS assume responsibility for any error, omissions or other discrepancies.