Although uncommon, lung transplants are sometimes used in
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). During a
lung transplant, you are given a lung from a donor who has recently died. A
single-lung transplant (receiving one lung) is done more often than a
double-lung transplant (receiving two lungs). Improvement in the ability to
exercise is nearly as good in people who have a single-lung transplant as it is
in those who have a double-lung transplant.
surgery has been found to help people with COPD for at least 3 to 4 years after
surgery. A transplant can improve breathing and quality of life. But the
long-term benefit of lung transplant for people with COPD is not yet
Criteria have not been firmly established for selecting
people with COPD to have a lung transplant. Lung transplant for people with
COPD may be considered for those who:
Have severe lung disease.
than age 65.
Have stopped smoking.
Have family and
friends who will help and encourage them during and after the
Do not currently have a drug or alcohol abuse
Other things to think about for lung transplant include the
It can take a long time to find a donor whose
blood and tissue types match yours.
You will have to take medicine
for the rest of your life to prevent rejection of the new lung. Even then,
there is a chance that rejection will occur.
The medicines you
must take suppress your
immune system. This results in an increased risk for severe and life-threatening infections.
If you are interested in lung transplants, you may be
referred to a transplant center, where you will have extensive physical and
psychological testing to see whether you are a good candidate for a lung
transplant. The testing includes exercise tests, lung function tests, heart
function tests, numerous blood tests, psychological profiles, and other
specialized testing. In addition, you need to demonstrate mental stability and
the commitment that is needed to follow up with the medical demands after the
If you become a candidate for a transplant, you are
placed on a waiting list. Depending on where the transplant center is located,
the wait for a lung transplant can be from 1 year to over 2 years.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.