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Preparation

If a lung transplant is thought to be an option for you, you'll be referred for a transplant assessment.

There are a number of specialist centres that carry out lung transplants in England.

They are:

A small number of children's lung transplants are carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Freeman Hospital.

Transplant assessment

You'll need to stay in hospital for up to 3 days for a lung transplant assessment.

Tests will be carried out to make sure your other major organs, such as your heart, kidneys and liver, will function properly after the transplant.

These may include blood tests and any of the following investigations:

During the assessment, you'll be able to meet members of the transplant team and ask questions. 

Your transplant team will include:

The transplant co-ordinator will be your main point of contact.

They'll talk to you and your family about what happens during a lung transplant and the risks involved.

After the assessment is complete, a decision will be made as to whether a lung transplant is suitable for you and whether it's the best option.

It may be decided that:

Why a lung transplant might be unsuitable

The supply of donor lungs is limited, which means there are more people who'd benefit from a lung transplant than there are donor lungs.

This means people who are unlikely to have a successful transplant are not usually considered suitable for transplant.

You may also be considered unsuitable if:

Age also plays a part because of the effect it has on likely survival rates.

There are no set rules and exceptions can always be made, but as a general rule:

The waiting list

The length of time you'll have to wait will depend on your blood group, donor availability and how many other people are on the list and how urgent their cases are.

While you wait, you'll be cared for by the doctor who referred you to the transplant centre.

They'll keep the transplant team updated with changes to your condition.

Another assessment is sometimes necessary to make sure you're still suitable for a transplant.

Your transplant team will often be given short notice of donor organs, so will have to move swiftly.

When a suitable donor is found, you'll usually need to be in hospital ready for your transplant within 6 to 8 hours.

If you live a long way from a transplant centre, you'll be flown to the centre or taken by ambulance.

Getting the call

When a suitable donor lung is found, the transplant centre will contact you and ask you to go to the centre.

When you hear from the transplant centre:

At the transplant centre, you'll be quickly reassessed to make sure no new medical conditions have developed.

At the same time, a second medical team will examine the donor lungs.

The lung transplant must be carried out as quickly as possible to ensure it has the best possible chance of being successful.