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Life after a lung transplant is an exciting time for most patients and their families – and it’s also a crucial time for exceptional care. At the Penn Lung Transplant Program, we are with you for life as you recover from a lung transplant.

Lung Transplant Recovery

After surgery, our care team transfers you to our surgical intensive care unit (SICU) to recover. You are on a ventilator and receive medication through an intravenous (IV) line. As soon as you are ready, our pulmonary rehabilitation team begins physical therapy. Without complications, you can expect to be in the SICU for three to five days.

After SICU, we take you to a "step-down" hospital room. While you recover and continue with physical therapy, we teach you and your family about your new medications and lifestyle. Without complications, you can expect to be in the hospital for about 21 days

After your discharge from HUP, you and your caregiver will stay in Philadelphia for several months. During this time, you return to the Penn Transplant Institute three times a week for lung and heart tests, bloodwork and pulmonary rehabilitation therapy. We will watch you carefully for signs of infection, lung rejection or medication side effects.

It’s important that you work with your family or caregivers to maintain your recovery regimen, including:

  • Eating nutritious meals
  • Exercising regularly
  • Monitoring for signs of rejection, which can include shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, coughing or chest congestion
  • Recording your temperature, weight and lung function each day
  • Taking your medications are prescribed

Post-Transplant Inpatient Rehabilitation

When you leave the hospital after your lung transplant, you may need more care than you can receive in a home setting. Inpatient rehabilitation is available from Good Shepherd Penn Partners, an established leader in post-acute rehabilitation care. This care aims to get you back home as soon and as safely as possible.

Recovering from a Lung Transplant: The Penn Medicine Difference

Leaving the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) after your surgery does not mean you leave Penn’s compassionate care. We monitor your progress and deliver constant support to set you up for long-term success. As a post-surgical lung transplant patient, you’ll find:

  • Multidisciplinary team of professionals: Our world-class pulmonologists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, therapists and other support staff are focused on you. Working together, they provide you with comprehensive care for your whole recovery period.
  • Expert pulmonary rehabilitation: Our expert pulmonary therapists have deep experience with lung transplant patients. They work with you to strengthen your body as it adjusts to life with a new lung. We offer pulmonary rehabilitation in convenient locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, so you don’t have to travel far from home.
  • Home away from home: Our transplant social worker can connect you with options for staying nearby for follow-up and therapy, including the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House and other lodging choices. 

Lung Transplant Follow-Up

After your recovery period in Philadelphia, we continue to monitor you to for potential complications and to help prevent rejection of your new lung. You will see us throughout your life in periodic follow-up visits to Penn Transplant Institute for post-op care after a lung transplant.

Hospitality in the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House

Uprooting from home and finding a temporary place to live after lung transplant surgery can be stressful. As a patient in the Penn Lung Transplant Program, you and your family have access to the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, a low-cost, comfortable guest house conveniently located near the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Our transplant social workers can help you make housing arrangements. Learn more about the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House and other accommodations in Philadelphia for transplant patients and families.

Patients and Families Talk About Life After a Lung Transplant

When the Penn Lung Transplant Program reached a milestone of 1,000 lung transplants, we celebrated. Patients, friends and families shared what their transplant means to them. Watch their testimonies.

Request an Appointment to Discuss Lung Transplant Post-Op Recovery

Call 215-662-6200 to speak to one of our lung transplant recovery and post-operation aftercare experts. You can also request an appointment using our online form.

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