What to Expect During Your Lung Transplant Operation

Do you know what to expect during your lung transplant procedure?

Does your family know what to expect during your lung transplant surgery?

Before going into any surgery, you and your family should have a full understanding of the process. Our team will answer any questions you have and keep everyone in-the-know throughout.

A few things to keep in mind as you prepare for a lung transplant:

The waiting list is comprised of potential lung transplant recipients who are awaiting a suitable donor. Donors are deceased and their surviving family members give consent to the donation. Due to the unpredictability of this donation potential, recipients may be on the waiting list for a period of a few days to many months.

Once an organ becomes available, you will be immediately called to the hospital. This call can occur at any time, so patients should always be prepared to go to the hospital if needed. Once at the hospital, you will have additional final blood work and tests to confirm the match of the organ.

Once a match is confirmed, you will go directly to the operating room. The transplant surgery may require from six to 12 hours and can vary greatly depending on the type of surgery and on each individual case. All lung transplants are performed under general anesthesia. Cardiopulmonary bypass (rerouting of the blood through a heart-lung bypass machine) may be required.

During surgery, a member of the transplant team will keep your family informed on the progress of the transplant.

After surgery, you will go to an intensive care unit (ICU) to be monitored closely. The length of time spent in the ICU will vary based on each patient’s unique condition. Once stable, you will be sent to the special unit in the hospital that cares for lung transplant patients and will continue to be monitored closely. Patients are educated on all aspects of caring for the transplant during this time, including information about medications, activity, follow-up, diet and any other specific instructions from the Nebraska Medicine transplant team.

Problems that may occur after transplantation include dysfunction of the transplanted lung, rejection of the transplant lung and infection.