Why it's done
Unhealthy or damaged lungs can make it difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to survive. A variety of diseases and conditions can damage your lungs and hinder their ability to function effectively. Some of the more common causes include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
- Scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
- Cystic fibrosis
Lung damage can often be treated with medication or with special breathing devices. But when these measures no longer help or your lung function becomes life-threatening, your doctor might suggest a single-lung transplant or a double-lung transplant.
Some people with coronary artery disease may need a procedure to restore blood flow to a blocked or narrowed artery in the heart, in addition to a lung transplant. In some cases, people with serious heart and lung conditions may need a combined heart-lung transplant.
Factors that may affect your eligibility for a lung transplant
A lung transplant isn't the right treatment for everyone. Certain factors may mean you're not a good candidate for a lung transplant. While each case is considered individually by a transplant center, a lung transplant may not be appropriate if you:
- Have an active infection
- Have a recent personal medical history of cancer
- Have serious diseases such as kidney, liver or heart diseases
- Are unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes necessary to keep your donor lung healthy, such as not drinking alcohol or not smoking
- Do not have a supportive network of family and friends