LUNG TRANSPLANT AND HEART-LUNG TRANSPLANT


Lung Transplantation is a surgery used to replace diseased lungs or heart with a healthy heart and lungs from a human donor. Types of surgery include: single-lung transplantation, double-lung transplantation, heart-lung transplantation.

Lung transplant operations have been performed since 1980 in the United States. The heart and lungs are usually donated from a human who has been declared brainstem-dead yet remains on life-support. Tissue matches are made to match a patient and donor to minimise the risk of the patient rejecting the transplanted lung or heart.

The patient is placed under general anesthesia and an incision is made through the breast bone (sternum). At the same time tubes re-route the blood to a special heart-lung bypass machine that keeps the blood oxygenated and circulating during the surgery. The patient's heart and/or lungs are removed and the donor heart and lungs are stitched into place. Heart-lung transplant may be recommended for patients with severely diseased lungs such as primary pulmonary hypertension or a severely damaged heart which occurs in severe cases of pulmonary hypertension.

The lungs work to bring air in contact with blood so that oxygen can be introduced into the body and carbon dioxide removed. The lungs are two cone shaped, spongy organs inside the chest cavity. Lungs lie from the bottom of chest to a point above the collar bone and they lie against ribs.

Having a single lung transplant means having an operation to remove one of diseased lungs and replacing it with a new lung. Having a double lung transplant means having an operation to remove both of diseased lungs. These lungs are replaced with the healthy lungs from another human being. This new lung(s) will work to help breathe by providing body with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide just as own lungs did when they were healthy. This new lung or lungs will come from a person who is an organ donor. This person has suffered and injury to the blood supply to the brain which results in "brainstem death". This person's lungs are normal and not affected by this injury.

A lung transplant generally prolongs the life of a patient who otherwise would die because of advanced stage PPH. A transplant is performed only in patients where there is a very good chance of success. According to the United network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) the patient survival rates for all patients that had a lung transplant are 85% at one month, 69% at one year, and 51 % at three years for patients transplanted between 1987 and 1992. Results since those years are likely to be much better.

After the surgery the body may reject the organs. The body's immune system may consider the transplanted organs an invader and rejects the organs the same way it would fight an infection. To stop the body from reacting in this way, organ transplant patients are given anti-­rejection (immunosuppression) drugs (such as cyclosporine and corticosteroids) that suppress the body's immune response and reduce the chance of rejection. Sorry to state that these drugs also reduce the body's natural ability to fight off other dangerous infections.

A patient undergoing a lung transplant will often remain in the hospital for months, that full recovery period is about 6 months. Follow-ups along with blood tests and X-ray will be necessary for the remainder of the patients life.