Lung Transplant Surgery: Preparation and Procedure
Survival gets difficult after lung failure. In such case, Lung Transplant is the only hope for healthy living. Lung Transplant Surgery is usually a complicated process, but the results often save a life. The patient may suffer failure either in a single or both the lungs. The surgeon replaces the diseased lung with the help of a healthy lung. He retrieves a healthy lung from a donor. Unlike other organ transplants, the donor for a lung transplant is dead.
If the person suffers failure of one lung, it is possible to survive, but you have to compromise on your lifestyle. There exists a lot of restrictions when it is about physical activities, exercises, and you may have to suffer various other health issues. If both the lungs of a person are diseased, Lung Transplant becomes mandatory for survival.
Lung Transplant was not popular over two decades ago, but with the advancement in technology and immune-suppressing drugs, the survival rates post-surgery improve by 80 %. Almost 85 % of the patients survive for more than three years.
Preparation For the Lung Transplant Surgery:
Preparing for any organ transplant surgery has particular prerequisites. Talking about Lung Transplant Surgery, the surgeons usually follow the following steps before beginning with the surgical procedure:
At Doctor’s End:
- The first thing after the failure of medications in lung diseases is the evaluation of the patient.
- The test results determine whether or not a patient is fit for Lung Transplant Surgery.
- Once, the patient receives approval for transplantation; doctors put him in the list of patients for lung transplantation.
- This list is essential to find a suitable lung donor for the patient. The surgeons do not serve the patients on a first come, first serve basis but based on the availability of the donor.
- You will receive the call from the hospital, as the doctor finds the best match for you. For lung transplantation, the size of the lungs, as well as the blood group of the donor, must match with the recipient.
- In most of the cases, a lung donor is a deceased donor. However, if your medical condition requires the transplantation of a single lung or a portion of the lung, the surgeon may consider a live donor too.
At Patient’s End:
- For Lung Transplant Surgery, not only a doctor but a patient also needs preparation. Once you are in a list of surgery, pack your bags immediately. Reach to the hospital for operation without delay. The doctor may use the donor’s lung for another suitable patient if you decline your availability.
- Also, keep one of your family or acquaintance ready to accompany you to the hospital for treatment. Support from a family member or friend is essential before, during and after the surgery.
- Another most important thing at the donor’s end is to quit smoking and drinking habits if any. An unhealthy lifestyle may lead to worsening conditions of your lungs, and the surgeon may reject the Lung Transplant Surgery for you.
- Once you approve your availability, the doctor will make all the necessary arrangements for the operation in OT for the date you finalise.
- Reach with your baggage with basic requirements, to begin with, the procedure.
The Procedure for Lung Transplant Surgery:
It is possible to understand the proceedings of a Lung Transplant Surgery in three primary divisions, that is:
Before the Surgery:
Do not drink or eat anything before the surgery. You have to be empty stomach as the surgeon conducts a test on both the donor (if alive) and recipient once again to be sure that both are fit to undergo surgery. Once your diagnosis results are positive, the medical team shifts you to the operation theatre.
During Lung Transplant Surgery:
Here, the surgeon starts by providing anaesthesia to the patient. It is essential to keep the patient unconscious so that he does not feel the surgical pain. Once, you are numb, the doctor gives incision on your chest and then cut all the airways to the diseased lung.
After removing the blood vessels and airways, the surgeon replaces the diseased lungs with healthy lungs from the donor. The proceedings continue by reattaching the blood vessels and airways to the new lung. The final step is to close the incision.
The patient is connected to an artificial heart-lung machine to keep up the functionality of the body during the surgery. The most important function is to oxygenate blood outside the body and pump it back into the body.
If it is single lung transplantation, doctors take 6 to 8 hours to complete the surgery. However, for complex operations or double lung transplantation, doctors may take up to 12 hours.
After the Surgery:
Doctors keep the patient in the OT for 5 to 8 hours after the surgery. It is vital to provide oxygen to the patient with the help of a mechanical ventilator. Then the surgeon shifts you to ICU, here you will stay unless your condition is reasonable. The patient has a new tube attached in veins for the supply of medication.
Once the patient can breathe normally, doctors shift him to the private room or the rehab centre. It usually takes 3 to 8 days for a patient to breathe without a ventilator. During the recovery period, the medical team provide you with the necessary guidance for diet and exercises.
The recovery period is crucial after the Lung Transplant Surgery, as there are chances of rejection of the newly transplanted organ by the immune system of the body. However, the surgeon provides you with immune-suppressants so that the body can accept the donor’s lung.
Make sure you do not skip on medicines else; it might lead to severe complications. Generally, the risks of a Lung Transplant Surgery are high, but with proper care and medications, you can avoid these difficulties.
The doctors suggests that the patient should stay in the hospital for a minimum of three to four weeks after the Lung Transplant Surgery. Though it ultimately depends on the condition of the patient. Even after you leave the hospital, you must follow the recovery instructions strictly.
Lung Transplant Surgery may be complicated but proves to be helpful for recovery from end-stage pulmonary diseases. Consider periodic check-up for at least one year after the Lung Transplant Surgery. Once you recover, your life span will increase the minimum by 3 to 5 years. Almost 80 % of the patients who undertook Lung Transplant Surgery successfully lived for more than ten years. Despite the complexities, success ratio of the treatment is very high. So, consider the treatment for you and your family, if someone is suffering from critical lung disorders to improve the quality of your life.