Getting Ready for Lung Transplant - The Dry Run


dry run


Simple Definition of dry run : a practice event that is done to prepare for the actual event that will happen in the future

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In lung transplantation, a dry run is when you get the call for transplant and leave the hospital without new lungs. While it may be good preparation for the final event, it can also be difficult to navigate if you’re not familiar with the process.

Here is some information about what to expect when you are called into the hospital for a lung offer, and how and why a dry run may happen.

Why a dry run occurs

A dry run occurs because at the time when patients are called into the hospital, the lung offer is preliminary – based on the information and data available to the Penn Lung Transplant Team at the time. 

The team accepts the offer with the understanding that final acceptance will depend on when the Penn Lung Transplant procurement surgeon arrives at the donor hospital. It is at this time that the organ recovery process begins, and the procurement surgeon is able to see or “visualize” the donated lungs in person.

In the event that the lungs will be acceptable to transplant, it’s important for you to be in the hospital and ready for the transplant surgery by the time the surgeon is taking a look at the lungs. 

When the procurement surgeon takes a look at the lungs, they may decide they are not good for us to use. We do not want to put a bad set of lungs into our patients, and because of this, our surgeon may decline the lungs at that final visualization stage. 

The team will inform you of the surgeon’s decision, and you and your caregiver will return home.

What you can expect while you are at the hospital

Once admitted, the time from admission to transplant can vary greatly. Depending on the lung offer, times can range from one to 24 hours. And unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the timing; however, please be assured that the team will update you with the information they have as soon as it is available.

Once the donor operating room (OR) time is confirmed, you will be taken to the Perioperative Care Unit (PACU) to await the final decision for transplant. It’s important for you to be in the PACU so that the preparation for surgery can begin right away if the lungs are accepted.

If the lungs are turned down, you will be notified and brought back up to your hospital room.

From your hospital room, you will be discharged and will be able to go home shortly thereafter.

What else is important to know

  • A dry run does not impact your place on the transplant list. You go right back to where you were on the list and are available to accept offers for lungs in that same day.
  • There is no limit on how many dry runs you can have. 
  • Please make sure to bring enough oxygen to get you both to and from the hospital should a dry run occur.

Our goal is to make sure that your new lungs are the best possible match so as to ensure you have the best outcome possible. The transplant team is available to you 24 hours a day should you have any questions or concerns after a dry run. Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions you may have.

About this Blog

The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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