Patients must meet a broad range of physical and psychosocial criteria to become eligible for transplantation. A social evaluation determines if transplant candidates have the psychological stability, motivation and personal support to meet the challenges of transplantation. Then the patient and family meet with the team of experts who will be with them throughout the transplant process.
Each patient's team includes a transplant lung specialist called a pulmonologist, transplant surgeon, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker, psychologist and physical therapist.
Persons with cystic fibrosis are required to consult with an ear, nose and throat specialist. If minor sinus surgery is required, a short hospital stay is arranged. Several other team members conduct appropriate specialty evaluations when indicated and make recommendations to the team. These include but are not limited to the anesthesiologist, cardiologist, psychologist, intervention counselor, infectious disease specialist, hematologist and physical therapist.
Transplant candidates undergo a battery of tests that may include routine blood work, electrocardiogram (ECG) and other radiological and diagnostic procedures. UCSF Medical Center uses state-of-the-art imaging technology to obtain the most accurate diagnoses. After the medical work-up, our team designs care plans for each patient, drawing on resources from a variety of disciplines, including social work, nursing and nutrition. Patients are never out of touch with the team: an expert who knows about each case is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To be eligible for a lung transplant, you must meet the following requirements:
Once all the interviews and tests are completed, the members of the transplant team review the information and make a recommendation about treating your lung disease. They may suggest further testing or other therapies prior to considering a lung transplant. It is important to remember that lung transplantation is not appropriate therapy for all patients with lung disease.
If accepted as a lung transplant patient, you will join many other patients who are awaiting a transplant. You will be seen on a regular basis to monitor your progress. If you are not accepted initially as a lung transplant candidate, the reasons for the decision and any further testing and therapeutic options will be discussed with you and your referring physician.
As a result of your lung condition, you may have several associated problems that must be addressed. These include:
Evaluation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program is essential if you are considering transplantation. It is important that you be in the best physical shape as possible at the time of your surgery. Lung transplantation will improve your shortness of breath and oxygen need. Therefore, you will be introduced to the importance of exercise and activity before your transplant. This will include training your respiratory muscles as well as a biking or walking program for general conditioning. You will need to continue this program even after your transplant occurs.
We also require all patients to have an annual flu shot, a pneumonia vaccine, up-to-date tetanus shots (within the last 10 years) and H.influenzae B. vaccine.
After being approved for transplantation, patients are immediately put on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) lists. Your placement on the waiting list is determined by the severity of your condition and the likelihood that your transplant would be successful, known as your lung allocation score. Those with higher scores get higher priority when a compatible lung becomes available. During the waiting period, UCSF Medical Center provides a network of support for patients and family members, including a long-running, popular support group.
A new lung or lungs will come from a person who is an organ donor. This person has suffered an injury to the blood supply to the brain, which results in "brain death."
Organ procurement organizations work to match donors with people who are awaiting transplants. This matching is based primarily on the size of the donor and the blood type and is started through a computerized listing created by UNOS. A transplant team removes the lungs from the donor and brings them to UCSF Medical Center. While this is happening, you will be notified to come to the medical center. You will then be transferred to the operating room where an anesthesiologist will prepare you for surgery.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.