A surgical procedure to replace a diseased or damaged lung with a healthy lung is known as lung transplant. The treating doctor of the patient depending upon the condition of the patient’s lungs will decide if only one lung needs to be transplanted or both. Most lungs that are transplanted are usually taken from deceased organ donors. This type of transplant is called a cadaveric transplant. Healthy, nonsmoking adults who are a good match for the patient are eligible to to donate a part (a lobe) of one of their lungs.
Our body needs oxygen to survive and lungs main function is to assist oxygen we breathe to enter the red blood cells. Oxygen is carried to the entire body with help of the red blood cells. Lungs also throws away CO2 when we breathe out. Damaged or unhealthy lungs are unable to carry enough oxygen to the body to survive.
Most of the minor lung diseases are often treated with medication of with help of breathing exercises and devices. However, when the conservative treatments do not help anymore and patients lung gets damaged the lack of lung functioning can become life threatening and the patient may be suggested of a lung transplant.
Apart from breathing problems, there are some acute respiratory issues which often result in a patient facing the possibility of getting a lung transplant:
Cystic fibrosis: This is a problem where the one suffers from the clogging of thick sticky mucus formation between the lungs and the digestive system.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): This is a condition that can result from numerous diseases that apparently damage the lungs. One of the main reasons is excessive smoking.
Pulmonary Hypertension: This is condition where patient has high blood pressure inside the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: This is a condition where the patient’s lungs have scarring.
Apart from these, there are some other symptoms also which might require lung transplation. Problems such as Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Sarcoidosis, Severe bronchiectasis and Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM Lung Disease) are also mostly treated by Lung transplantation.
As in all other organ transplant cases, the major challenge in lung transplant cases is also the availability of a donor. Even if the donor is available there are many criteria which should match between recipient donor before the donors lung may be considered fit for transplantation. Lung transplant in India is done at very selective hospitals in India.
Once the donor is available and all investigations qualify the donor fit for donation patient is come to hospital for transplantation.
There are two types of Lung Transplants:
Single Lung Transplant – Single Lung Transplant is a process when a single damaged lung is transplanted with a healthy donor lung. These treatments are often used for patients with pulmonary fibrosis and cannot be suitable for people suffering with cystic fibrosis as in Cystic Fibrosis, there is possibility of infection spreading from the remaining lung to the donated lung.
Double Lung Transplant – Double Lung Transplant is a surgical procedure where two diseased lungs are removed and replaced with the healthy donated lungs. This kind of treatment is suitable for patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and is normally a suggested for those with extreme pulmonary hypertension.
The process of Lung Transplantation Surgery:
Lung transplantation surgery is performed administering general anesthesia.
A cut is made in patients chest and the diseased lung is remove and replaced with donors lung.
Patient is been followed up in the OPD after lung transplant to determine of all parameters are stable, assess new lung functioning etc.
What is the duration of the surgery and recovery period?
A lung transplant surgery takes approximately 5 hours and in case both lungs need to be replaced it takes about 10 hours.
Patient is expected to be hospitalized for about 14-20 days of hospitalization depending upon the condition.
What are some of the precautions that need to be taken after the treatment?
It is very important to strictly follow the lifestyle advised by the doctor after the lung transplant failing which the patient may again develop problems.
First 3 months after the transplantation is very important in which patient is given a schedule of some specific exercises to increase capacity of the lungs. Smoking is strictly prohibited for a lung transplant patient.
How is a lung transplant beneficial?
A lung transplant can considerably enhance the standard of life of the patient. Most patients live for an additional ten years or more after a successful lung transplant. The only precaution is to try an get the operation done at the best lungs transplant hospitals in India.
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