Indications for a lung transplant

Indication of single or double lung transplant includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema, scarring of the lungs called pulmonary fibrosis, severe bronchiectasis, high blood pressure in the lungs called pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis, etc. The most important reason for a lung transplant is when any other medication or treatment fails to deliver the required oxygen to the lungs.

Indications for heart and lung transplantation include end-stage heart failure and end-stage lung failure. The failure is a result of complex congenital heart disease with Eisenmenger syndrome or right ventricular failure with evidence of right ventricular fibrosis or infarction or refractory left ventricular failure. Any of these conditions mandate lung transplants for the patient.

Preparing for a lung transplant

Patients begin to prepare for a lung transplant before the surgery is scheduled. One can begin preparing for a lung transplant week, months, or even years before receiving a donor lung, depending upon the respective waiting transplant waiting time.

If the doctor suggests a lung transplant for your condition, you are likely to be referred to a transplant centre for evaluation. The patient can select the transplant centre on his/her own.

When evaluating a transplant centre:

  • You must check with the health insurance provider to see the centre covered by your plan.
  • Take into consideration the number of transplants a centre performs each year and the transplant recipient survival rate.
  • You must check the extra services provided by a transplant centre, like support groups, assistance with travel arrangements, etc.


Once the center for a lung transplant is determined, the patient needs to have an evaluation for seeing his/her eligibility for the transplant. During the evaluation, the doctors and the transplant team can review your medical history, conduct physical examinations, ask for other tests, and evaluate your mental and emotional health. The tests performed on the patient include different types of blood tests, chest X-Ray scans, pulmonary function tests, ventilation-perfusion scans, computed tomography scans (CT scans), etc.

After the pre-transplant evaluation, the Lung Transplant Team meets together to discuss if the transplant is appropriate for the patient. The transplant coordinator then notifies the patient about the team’s decision. The goal of the whole procedure is to determine the patient’s ability to undergo the transplant and its recovery without any complications. If the patient is approved, he/she is placed on the transplant list.

The patients are also provided with a lung allocation score. It is a number that the United Nations of Organ Sharing (UNOS) uses to assign relative priority for the distribution of lungs for transplant in the USA. It takes into account the different measures of patients’ health for directing donated organs towards the patients best suitable for the lung transplant.

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