Our mission is to improve the lives of lung transplant patients and their families.

Through the transplant

Once you receive the call notifying you that lungs are available, you will go to the hospital, where you will wait while the team examines the donor’s lungs. Sometimes the lungs, upon closer inspection, are not viable and the transplant will be called off. This is called a “dry run” and it is common. If it happens, your having gone through it will relieve some of the stress when the actual transplant call comes; the process will be familiar.

While your loved one is waiting for word from the transplant team—often for several hours—you can be with them while they wait. Tap into your strength and resources to stay calm, confident, positive, hopeful, strong, and supportive.

After surgery, the patient will be unconscious and on a ventilator in the medical intensive care unit of the hospital. If you’ve never seen your loved one in this condition before, you may feel overwhelmed at first. Patients may be placed in an upright, almost standing position in the hospital bed, and there will be chest tubes, catheters, and other equipment connected to your loved one to monitor their vital signs. The transplant recipient will be monitored very closely for the first 48 to 72 hours, and visitation will be limited to certain times of the day and restricted to a certain number of people. Having one or two close family members with you is helpful, but ask other visitors to wait at least a few days before visiting until the patient stabilizes.

Some patients have complications that delay their extubation, but once the patient is off the ventilator, stabilized, and stronger, they will be moved into a step-down unit. At this point you will experience a high point of the process: seeing your loved one without an external oxygen supply. Most patients will be hospitalized for two to three weeks. In the weeks following surgery, the transplant recipient will be most vulnerable to illness and infection because the immunosuppressant medications will be at their highest doses. A common cold or virus can cause severe problems. Therefore, it is important to limit visitors, wear masks, and allow the patient to rest and recover.

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