There are four major stages in the lung transplant process at Penn Medicine.
Patients who may be helped by a lung transplant undergo an extensive evaluation by the Penn Lung Transplant Team. Based on the evaluation results, the lung transplant team decides whether or not a lung transplant is appropriate as the best therapeutic option.
The decision to proceed with a lung transplant represents a lifelong commitment to self-care and medical follow-up, so the ultimate decision rests with the patients. Only they can evaluate their quality of life and determine whether or not a lung transplant is worth pursuing.
Those patients who decide to pursue a lung transplant are placed on the waiting list. Being "placed on the list" means their names and certain medical information are entered into the national database overseen by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
When a lung donor is identified, a group of surgeons evaluate the lungs. Because of time constraints, patients are called in to the hospital before the inspection is completed. If the donor lungs meet transplant criteria, the transplant surgery proceeds. But if for any reason the lungs are determined to be unsuitable, the surgery is cancelled.
On average, lung transplant patients stay in the hospital for two to three weeks following surgery.
After leaving the hospital, patients are expected to return to the Penn Transplant Institute three times a week for 12 weeks following surgery, for ongoing therapy and medical care and are monitored for any signs of infection, rejection or medication side effects.