Lung transplant is the process by which one or two lungs in the body are replaced. It requires a human donor, at least with the limitation of the today’s world. Not everyone suffering from lung disease is a candidate; lung transplant is prescribed for the patients whose condition keeps aggravating despite getting all the available medical treatment.
People suffering from ailments like cystic fibrosis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis etc. are generally prescribed the transplant when their disease enters the complicated stage, where the body does not respond to medicine, and the lungs get damaged to the point where their functionality is compromised.
Being a candidate for the transplant:
Anyone suffering from lung disease knows how difficult it is to like with it. Breathing is an essential requirement of the body, and when that is compromised, your entire body suffers. Hence, getting the transplant is imperative for some people.
The primary care doctor handling the disease has best idea of the condition of the patient, however, it is always to get second opinion from the best pulmonologist in Lahore as well. Once need for transplant is established, patient is referred to a transplant pulmonologist, who is an expert of transplant.
However, not everyone will be eligible for transplant. Unfortunately, as human donor is required, the organs are scarce. Patients who therefore are picked chosen on their odds of surviving.
Generally, patients who are smokers, have cancer –current or in remission, have advanced kidney or liver or heart disease, are HIV positive, are addicts or have history of substance abuse etc. are low in the totem pole. They already come with a lot of complications and therefore not only will recovery be hard for them, but their chances of survival are also lesser.
Lung transplant is a meticulous process that involves certain phases, albeit dependent on the hospital that you have visited. Generally, in the first appointment, patient is evaluated and undergoes tests to ascertain their eligibility.
Other than that, patient is also given pertinent information; what the entire process entails, the lifelong dependency on drugs etc. Patients must know the risks of the process, their odds of surviving etc.
Patients should also know how opportunistic this entire process is; there are so many patients on the transplant list and the organ has time crunch. Hence, when the opportunity presents itself, if the patient cannot be reached within a certain time, hospital will move onto another patient.
When the patient is contacted about a donor, they should straightaway rush to the hospital. It is imperative that the patient does not eat or drink anything without clearing with an expert as they might have to be rushed immediately into surgery for which they should have an empty stomach.
As the patient gets to the hospital, they have their X-rays and blood work done. They are also given pre-op care like shaving etc. The entire surgical exercise can last for 6-12 hours; depending on if one or two legs are getting the transplant etc.
Initially, the patient remains under the care of the nursing and the medical staff after the surgery in the critical unit. Patients at this stage are extremely vulnerable; not only is surgery a major trauma for the body, but transplant requires patients to take immunosuppressant drugs. Hence, the family visits have to wait!
After being discharged from the Hospital:
The first 3 months of the patient’s life after transplant are critical, as they are highly susceptible to infections. The body is also getting acclimatized to the new organ, and there are chances of it rejecting the new organ even.
Hence, the patient gets regular tests done to gauge their condition. During this time, patient also is on a strict weight and health control; blood pressure, cholesterol, pulse, temperature all are to be monitored carefully.
Patient is also instructed to steer clear of smoking, drinking –limit it if living without it is too hard–, eating well and healthy diet. Remember, body is fighting double battles; it is accepting the new organ and healing the surgical invasion. Give it its due care.
Back to life:
After 3 months, your doctor will allow for an exercise rehabilitation plan, which is conducted under expert care. Most people get back to their normal routine after about 6 months.
However, patients should be conscientious about taking their medication. These are required so that your body accepts the organs and as your immunity is suppressed, you also need medicines to help fight the infection.
It is also important that you keep in contact with best pulmonologist in Karachi, so that your health and vitals are kept track of.