If you have been told that a lung transplant may improve your advanced lung disease, you likely have many questions. The experts at the Penn Lung Transplant Program are at your side throughout the lung transplant process with support and guidance.
The first stage of the lung transplant process is a lung transplant referral, consultation and evaluation. We look at all factors related to a potential transplant: your health, support network, finances and ability to follow a complicated medical regimen following a transplant. During this stage you have many opportunities to ask questions so you can fully understand the lung transplant process and how it may impact your life.
Lung Transplant Referral, Consultation and Evaluation: The Penn Medicine Difference
We understand that lung transplant referral, consultation and evaluation are big steps. With 30 years of experience and almost 1,500 lung transplants, we’ve thought of every detail. We make sure you understand each step, so you can feel at ease. Your lung transplant evaluation with us includes:
- Consultation before evaluation: Before asking you to take time away from your schedule for a lung transplant evaluation, we review your records and host a brief consultation appointment with you. We tell you if it’s time for an evaluation or if we should wait.
- Efficient testing: We know you’re busy and you want answers. Our outpatient evaluation process takes only three or four days in one location, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) in Philadelphia. In a week or two, you’ll have the answers you need to help you choose the next best steps.
- Multidisciplinary team: The experts who perform your evaluation meet as a team to review the results and determine if a lung transplant could be right for you. If you do have a lung transplant, these same professionals will make up your transplant team. We’re with you every step of the way.
- Advanced expertise for complex and high-risk cases: With world-class pulmonologists and surgeons on our team, we’re able to help people considered too high-risk or complex at other centers.
How Do I Start the Lung Transplant Evaluation Process?
The lung evaluation process starts with a referral from your doctor. He or she sends us records that describe your lung disease, medical history, prior treatment and insurance coverage. Our team reviews your information.
If you could be eligible for a lung transplant evaluation, we schedule you for a consultation appointment with an expert transplant nurse coordinator and pulmonologist. We talk with you about your medical situation, tell you what to expect with a lung transplant and answer your questions. After this meeting, we discuss with you our decision, which could be:
- You are not eligible for a lung transplant due to information we learned during the consultation.
- It is too early for a lung transplant, so there is no need for an evaluation now. We will follow you for several months and reevaluate your health at that time.
- It could be time for a lung transplant, so we schedule a lung transplant evaluation that takes three or four days at HUP.
Who Will I Meet During Lung Transplant Evaluation?
When you arrive for your evaluation, you first meet with your transplant nurse coordinator. During your evaluation you will meet with others members of our lung transplant team. These compassionate professionals collectively have hundreds of years of experience with lung transplants. Your team includes:
- Cardiovascular surgeon
- Finance coordinator
- Rehabilitation team
- Social worker
- Transplant nurse coordinator
Depending on your situation, you may also meet with an infectious disease specialist, cardiologist or psychiatrist. Meet our lung transplant team.
Tests and Evaluations for a Lung Transplant
During your three or four evaluation days, you’ll have a series of tests that help us determine if lung transplant is a good next step for you. Those tests may include:
- Blood tests to help determine how other parts of your body are working and your likelihood of infection. Blood and tissue typing helps match compatible organ donors.
- Perfusion/ventilation scan to evaluate the blood supply to your lungs (perfusion) and how air moves in and out of your lungs (ventilation).
- Pulmonary function tests to show us your ability to move air in and out of your lungs as you breathe.
- Imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans can help us understand the size and condition of your lungs.
- Six-minute walk test to evaluate your muscle strength and endurance.
- Echocardiogram and electrocardiogram to evaluate your heart. Healthy lungs depend on a healthy heart.
- Heart catheterization to evaluate the arteries around the heart.
- Barium swallow to looks for reflux disease, which can impact recovery.
- Psychological and social evaluations of factors like stress, financial issues and a personal support network to give us a picture of how you’ll move through the transplant process.
After Your Lung Transplant Evaluation
It takes one to two weeks to get your test results. When all results are in, the whole transplant team meets to go over them. If they determine you are a candidate for lung transplantation, and you decide to move ahead, we place you on a lung transplant waiting list.
We may decide that you are not a candidate for lung transplant. If your lungs are too healthy for a transplant right now, we will actively monitor you for changes. You may become eligible in the future. You may also have other health issues that make you ineligible for a lung transplant.
If a lung transplant is not a viable treatment option, we work with your primary care physician or local pulmonologist to find other ways to manage your lung condition.
Request an Appointment with a Lung Transplant Specialist
Call 215-662-6200 to speak to one of our lung transplant assessment experts about getting evaluated for a lung transplant. You can also request an appointment using our online form.