Living with a Lung Transplant

Lung damage occurs with various diseases and conditions. These include cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, sarcoidosis with advanced fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension.

Pulmonary fibrosis, which is a scarring of the lungs, can also result in damage. Many times, when one or both lungs have been damaged, medication and/or special breathing devices are successfully used for treatment.

However, if these methods are not effective, and the compromised lung function becomes life-threatening, a lung transplant could become a necessity.

Lung Transplant Risk of Rejection

It is possible for the body to reject a new organ, even if every precaution has been taken to provide a good match. Rejection is the term used to describe what takes place when the immune system refuses to accept a transplanted lung or lungs.

As a defense, the immune system is responsible for defending the body from any foreign substances, and might try to attack the new organ(s). To lower the risk of rejection, medications are prescribed to suppress the immune system of the patient.

Following a lung transplant operation, the medications will most likely be taken for the rest of the patient's life. Several side effects can accompany the medication, such as weight gain, facial hair, acne, stomach problems, and a rounder face. In addition to the above side effects, certain medications could increase the risk of developing a number of diseases, or aggravating existing illnesses.

Diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and kidney damage are some of the conditions associated with the medications used against rejection. Patients should consult with their doctor about any previous illnesses or concerns.

Lung Transplant Risk of Infection

Because the anti-rejection drugs are essentially lowering the immune system's capability, the body becomes more vulnerable to infections. The lungs are especially at risk during this time. Lung transplant patients can do several things in order to help prevent any infections from the surgery.

First, they should wash their hands often. Already an important step in fighting infections, hand-washing is even more important for a lung transplant patient. Teeth and gums need to be taken care of as well.

Skin must be protected from scratches and sores as much as possible. Receiving the appropriate immunizations is another preventive measure, and patients are encouraged to avoid crowds or people that are ill.

Lung Transplant Results

Having a lung transplant can potentially improve the overall quality of a person's life when it is necessary. Complications, rejection, and infection are usually the biggest threats within the first year of the surgery. Approximately half of lung transplant patients live longer than five years, while some have lived up to ten years or more.

Stories of inspiration have been reported - one double lung transplant recipient completed a marathon that took seven hours to run, just a year after the procedure. Each case is different and might require an individual approach to treatment. People can research to find hospitals and medical centers that feature specialists who are highly skilled.

Optimism, proper care, and knowledge are significant factors to how a person lives with a lung transplant.


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