Questions and Answers about Lung Transplantation
By Dr. David Mason
Transcript from Video
I’m Dr. David Mason. I’m one of the lung transplant surgeons here at Cleveland Clinic. Lung transplantation is a therapy that’s used to treat what we call "end-stage lung disease" for patients when other therapies are not available. These lung diseases are primarily emphysema, cystic fibrosis as well as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
There are typically no medical or surgical therapies left for these for patients who require lung transplantation and a careful committee search and careful committee evaluation are done prior to a person’s consideration for lung transplantation.
In general, patients who are candidates for lung transplantation are people who have isolated lung dysfunction and no other significant problems. The evaluation is a rigorous one. It requires multiple studies and meetings with multiple team members who are pulmonary division members and who are members of a surgical team, as well as social workers. The surgery itself is generally a single or double lung transplantation and this is decided upon usually by age - - younger patients generally get double lung transplants and older patients generally get single lung transplants. In general, we try to do double lung transplants on as many patients as possible.
Our transplant program is quite busy. We perform about 60 to 65 lung transplants a year. The patients have, in general, a pretty smooth post-operative course. The hospital stay is usually about two weeks. In general, the patient stays about three to four days in the ICU. The operation takes about four or five hours. And the median wait time for patients to get lung transplant is about 90 days. It can be longer, it can be shorter, but in general it’s 90 days, which is a very short wait time compared to the national average.
Post-operatively, the patients are seen in the surgical clinic as well as the pulmonary clinic. Follow-up for lung transplant is really a life-long commitment for both the team taking care of the patient, as well as for the patient. Careful post-operative care to prevent infection is important as well as following the patient to detect and treat signs of rejection.
While it is a very difficult procedure to do technically, most patients do extremely well after the operation. The quality of life tends to be high and most patients are very satisfied with their long-term outcome.
Thank you very much.
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