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What happens during a lung transplant evaluation?

Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
A transplant team will conduct a careful and comprehensive evaluation of your physical condition. Necessary tests are performed, including pulmonary function testing (PFT), x-rays and blood tests. Your dental health and bone strength are evaluated. You meet with the team's coordinator, social worker, psychiatrist, and financial counselor to help you understand and find ways to minimize the personal impact transplantation would invariably have on you and your family. Results are generally complete within a few days of the examination. Then, the team analyzes all the test data and consultation results to determine if transplantation is the correct therapy for you. This evaluation phase is typically completed within 60 days. At the end of the evaluation, an individualized action plan is created for you. If you are accepted as a transplant candidate, you are registered on the organ recipient waiting list of the United Network for Organ Sharing. If transplantation is not right for you, alternative therapies are recommended.  Note to reviewer: I'm not sure how this is different from a lung consultation; see the question after the next one.
People who may be helped by a lung transplant undergo an extensive evaluation. Based on the evaluation results, the lung transplant team decides whether or not a lung transplant is the best therapeutic option. Sometimes, lung transplant is not recommended because of the risks for the individual.

At Penn Transplant Institute, evaluations occur on an outpatient basis and typically take place over three days. During the evaluation, people needing a transplant meet the various members of the lung transplant team who provide information about lung transplant and the impact it may have on recipients and their families. Having a transplant is a major undertaking for everyone. It is very important for recipients and their support network to fully understand the dramatic lifestyle changes before making the commitment to a lung transplant.

Throughout the evaluation, the lung transplant team intends to accomplish four things:
  • Make sure the lung disease is treatable by transplant.
  • Better understand the current status of lung disease to make sure it is the right time to consider a transplant.
  • Confirm that no other medical problems exist that would decrease the chances of a successful transplant.
  • Provide all the information candidates need to make an informed decision about lung transplantation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.