Lung Transplant Surgery Procedure & Steps

A failing lung is replaced with a healthy donor lung, or surgery that replaces a diseased is known as lung transplantation surgery. Since 1988 there have been numerous successful lung transplant surgery, according to the study from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation. In patients aged from eighteen to sixty-four years, the old majority of those surgeries were performed.

However, in recent years, the survival rate for lung transplant patients has improved drastically. Nearly around eighty percent of lung transplant has greater survival rates, by the research conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Due to the advancement in medical technologies, the lung transplant cost has become more efficient over time. So, here are listed the procedure and steps of the lung transplant surgery:

Get a Good Facility

When you are trying to get a lung transplant surgery, it would be best if you research and find a good facility and its survival rate for the patient over there. It would help if you kept in mind that the survival rates vary by facility, so try to get the best facility for your surgery. When it comes to the surgery for people with lung failure, the lung transplant is very complicated, yet it is life-saving.

The Surgical Procedure

The lung transplant procedure involves replacing one or both diseased lungs with new healthy ones after removing them surgically. Your facility will call you once a lung from a donor is ready for you. They will contact you when a donor or diseased lung is prepared for the surgery. For this, a person known as the UPMC transplant coordinator will be helping you out.

1)     Before Coming for Surgery:

  • The patient will be advised to be empty stomached.
  • It would be best if you do not take an antimicrobial shower.
  • Try to bring your cell phone and charger with you to the facility.
  • Remember to get all your medications, including those for your caregiver, family, or support group.

Lung evaluation

The specialist will evaluate the donor’s lung or diseased lungs to ensure that they are the right size and type, and they will check the antibody the panel is a match.

2)     Pre-surgical procedures

  • You will have some basic testing.
  • The nurses will have a history and physical evaluation done.
  • You will be signing several consent forms for the lung transplant surgery.
  • Then you will be seeing an anesthesiologist.
  • They will prepare you for the surgery and give you general anesthesia.


  • It will take around six to eight hours for a single-lung transplant.
  • It will take about eight to twelve hours for a double-lung transplant.

3)     During the Surgery:

Before the procedure begins, your coordinator or surgeon will be able to provide more information about your transplant surgery. Then the following processes take place:

  • The surgeon will make an opening in your chest.
  • They will be cutting off the airways and blood vessels to your diseased lung.
  • Then the specialist will remove the diseased lung and replace it with a healthy donor lung.
  • After that, they will reattach the airways and blood vessels.
  • Finally, the surgeon will close up the incision.

Most often, with a double-lung transplant, they may connect you to a heart-lung machine during the entire procedure. This machine will be supporting your heart and lungs during surgery, and it oxygenates your blood outside your body and pumps it back. 

Unconventional techniques for Critical lung transplants

The lung transplant experts perform many complex lungs transplant operations with the help of the UPMC’s team. For handling the risks of the surgery and addressing the complications, they will be well-equipped with essential tools. 

They will use a process called Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) to expand the pool of suitable donor lungs. A surgeon can evaluate them for transplant with the help of this EVLP that keeps a pair of lungs alive outside the body.

For transplanting lungs in people with small chests, the surgeon will use special techniques and surgical tools. And for patients who meet strict health requirements, the surgeon will perform bloodless surgery, which means they will not use banked blood products during the operation.

Hospital Stay After Surgery

A few days after the procedure, you can expect to remain in the ICU for a short while to monitor your vital signs. A mechanical ventilator will help you breathe, which you will likely be hooked up to for a short period. In order to drain any fluid buildup, tubes will also be connected to your chests.

The entire stay in the facility may be shorter. However, your complete stay at the hospital could last for weeks. How well you recover depend on how long you stay will.

Post-surgery Instruction

You will have regular appointments with your lung transplant team for the next three months. You have to live close to the transplant center so that they will monitor any signs of infection, rejection, or other problems.

You will be given instructions on how to care for your surgical wound before you leave the facility. And also, they will let you know about any restrictions to follow and prescribe medication.

You will be asked to take regular immunosuppressants, which are important after your transplant to help prevent your body from attacking your new lung. Most likely, you will be taking these medications for the rest of your life.

Bottom line

Make sure to talk to your surgeon about all the possible side effects, and they will be prescribing you medicines like antifungal and antiviral medications. You will be required to take antibiotics, diuretics, and anti-ulcer medicines. But it is sure that eventually, you will do great after your surgery, so stay strong throughout the procedure and cherish your health.

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