Lung transplantation

3 min read |
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
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The worsening of a disease/condition over time

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A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

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Refers to the lungs

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A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

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A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

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A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

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A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

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A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

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A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

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A product that gives protection against a specific infection

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A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

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A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

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Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

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A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

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Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

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A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

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A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

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A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

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In lung transplantation, one or both damaged lungs are replaced with the lungs from a donor. It may be offered if the disease is quickly worsening or very severe.1,2 A lung transplant may improve your quality of life and help you live longer.1,3

However, it is a major operation which carries serious risks. A number of reasons may make it unsuitable for certain patients, such as non-curable infections or substance addiction.1 After a lung transplantation, you will need to take certain medicines for the rest of your life.

Lung transplantation is unfortunately not a cure. It is a decision that is not to be taken lightly and needs careful consideration and assessment.

Not everyone with pulmonary fibrosis is eligible for a lung transplant – some patients may have other co-existing diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure, that make a lung transplant impossible. Many programs have an upper age limit between 60 and 65 years. There are also only a very small number of donor organs available for transplantation.1,4-6 Therefore, even if you are eligible, you may need to join a long waiting list for a transplant.

This means that very few patients with pulmonary fibrosis will receive a transplant. However, it can be a good option for a small number of patients.

Quick Tip
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

If you think you could be eligible for a lung transplant, make sure you speak to your treatment team. They will have a complete picture of the different aspects of your health and will be able to start the process if you are eligible

An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

The goals of lung transplantation are to improve the longevity and quality of your life.1

What to consider before talking to your treatment team about a lung transplant1,7

  • You must be in good overall health with no other life-threatening illnesses such as kidney failure, heart failure, heart disease or cancer
  • You need to have stopped smoking for at least six months before a transplant. You may have to take tests to confirm you are no longer smoking
  • Your alcohol intake should be minimal
  • You need to be able to take different types of medications to ensure the success of your lung transplant
  • You must be at a healthy bodyweight

Your treatment team may address the possibility of a lung transplant as early as the time of diagnosis. They will assess whether you meet all the criteria for a lung transplant and will discuss the potential risks and benefits with you.

Key Takeaways

  • A lung transplant replaces the damaged lungs with those from a donor and can help improve your quality of life

  • It is a major operation with risks involved that should be discussed with your treatment team

  • Only a small number of people are eligible for a lung transplant

Show references Hide references
  1. 1.
    1. Orens JB, Estenne M, Arcasoy S, et al. International guidelines for the selection of lung transplant candidates: 2006 update - a consensus report from the Pulmonary Scientific Council of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2006;25(7):745–755.
  2. 2.
    1. Thabut G, Mal H, Castier Y, et al. Survival benefit of lung transplantation for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003;126(2):469–475.
  3. 3.
    1. Holtze C, Flaherty K, Kreuter M, et al. Healthcare utilisation and costs in the diagnosis and treatment of progressive-fibrosing interstitial lung diseases. Eur Respir Rev. 2018;27(150):180078.
  4. 4.
    1. Meltzer EB, Noble PW. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2008;3:8.
  5. 5.
    1. Raghu G, Rochwerg B, Zhang Y, et al. An official ATS/ERS/JRS/ALAT Clinical Practice Guideline: Treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. An Update of the 2011 Clinical Practice Guideline. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2015;192(2):e3–e19.
  6. 6.
    1. Courtwright A, Cantu E. Lung transplantation in elderly patients. J Thorac Dis. 2017;9(9):3346–3351.
  7. 7.
    1. NHS Choices. Lung transplant preparation. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-transplant/preparation/#why-a-lung-tr.... [Accessed April 2019].
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