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There are four major stages in the lung transplant process at Penn Medicine:

  • Evaluation
  • Preparing for transplant
  • Transplant surgery
  • After transplant care

Patients who may be helped by a lung transplant undergo 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. The patient's assessment of his or her own quality of life is meaningful in the determination to pursue lung transplantation.

Once the lung transplant team recommends transplant and a patient agrees, the patient's name is placed on the national waiting list. Being "placed on the list" means the patient's name 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, the patient is 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 eight weeks, to participate in a vital and intensive outpatient physical therapy program. This helps ensure a quick and effective recovery after transplant surgery. During the time, frequent physician visits occur with close medical care to monitor for any signs of infection, rejection or medication side effects.

Referral for Lung Transplant

To initiate the evaluation process, please have your health care provider send medical records that describe your lung disease, medical history and treatment, to date. The following information should be sent if available:

  • Cardiology study reports
  • Chest CT scans
  • Demographics (including insurance information)
  • Hospital discharge summaries
  • Pulmonary function studies
  • Reports of chest X-rays
  • Summary of active medical problems

Once pertinent medical records are received, they will be reviewed by a dedicated intake nurse coordinator who will facilitate the scheduling of a consultation appointment. In order to get the most from the consultation visit, additional studies may be requested prior to your visit. You are welcome to call the lung transplant office (215 662 6200) speak to a member of our clinical staff to answer questions you may have about the lung transplant process.

  • Lung Evaluation

    Patients who may benefit from 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 the best treatment option. Sometimes, lung transplant is not recommended because of the risks to the individual.

  • Lung Waiting List

    Placement on the national donor waiting list occurs once a patient has been evaluated by the lung transplant team and determined safe and ready for transplantation. Penn Lung Transplant is willing to offer dual listing for select patients who are actively listed at centers in other regions.

  • Lung Transplant Surgery

    When lungs from a donor become available, a Penn transplant surgeon will assess the condition of the lungs to determine if they are right for you. If so, the transplant team will begin to prepare you for surgery.

  • Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion

    Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) is a procedure used to minimize swelling in donor lungs in an effort to make them suitable for transplantation. Penn is a national leader in this technology designed to help more patients get transplanted safely.

  • Post-Lung Transplant Surgery

    The period after your lung transplant is the most critical. After transplant, you will be closely monitored by the transplant team to ensure continued healing and optimal outcomes following surgery. You will also be asked to attend all follow up appointments with your physicians, nurse practitioners and therapists for continued partnership in your care.

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