Lung transplant is an option for a few
people who have severe lung problems that are caused by
cystic fibrosis. The procedure removes the diseased
lungs and replaces them with healthy lungs from a recently deceased
Sometimes a procedure called a living-donor lobar lung
transplant is performed while a person is waiting for a full lung transplant.
In this procedure, the lower section (lobe) of one lung in each of two living
donors (who may be related or unrelated to the person who has cystic fibrosis)
is transplanted into the person who has cystic fibrosis. Because this
complicated transplant involves two living donors, it is performed less often
than other kinds of lung transplants.
What To Expect After Surgery
After lung transplant surgery, you
will be put on a
ventilator, which is a machine that temporarily takes
over the breathing process. If there are no complications, you will use the
ventilator for 1 to 2 days.
You will likely need to stay in
the hospital for 2 to 3 weeks after the transplant.
You'll need to take antibiotics and medicines to suppress your immune system to raise the chances that your body will
accept the new lungs.
Why It Is Done
Some people who have severe lung
damage that was caused by cystic fibrosis may get a lung transplant. Experts
aren't sure if a lung transplant helps a child with cystic fibrosis live
longer.1 People who have mild or moderate disease do
not usually get a transplant, because the risks are greater than the
How Well It Works
Several tests can help your doctor and you see how well a lung
transplant or a living-donor lobar lung transplant might work. These tests
lung function tests,
arterial blood gas tests, and exercise
- About half of the people who receive a lung
transplant survive at least 5 years after the procedure.2
- People with cystic fibrosis have the same survival rate after a
lung transplant as people who have lung transplants for other health
The main risks of lung transplant are problems
during the surgery and rejection of the donated organs. Infection and rejection
of transplanted organs have similar symptoms, including fever, tiredness, and
After a lung transplant, preventive
antibiotic therapy starts right away.
You will also take immunosuppressant medicines, usually for the rest of your life.
Although immunosuppressant medicines raise the chances that your body will
accept the new lungs, they also make it harder for your body to fight off
What To Think About
- Lung transplant surgery does not prevent or
improve any problems that cystic fibrosis may be causing in other parts of your
- Having a lung transplant is still a limited option in the United
States and is usually available only in certain major medical centers. You may
have to travel or move to another city to have the operation.
- Not everyone is a good candidate for an organ transplant. Your doctor or a transplant center will do tests to see if you are. For more information, see the topic Organ Transplant.
- If your tests show you are a good candidate, you are put on a waiting list. You may have to wait days, months, or years for a transplant. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
regularly updates its guidelines for transplant selection. More information can be found at www.unos.org.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Liou TG, et al. (2007). Lung transplantation and
survival in children with cystic fibrosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(21): 2143–2152. [Erratum in New England Journal of Medicine, 359(e6).]
Health Resources and Services Administration (2007).
2007 Annual Report of the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients: Transplant Data 1997–2006. Available online:
Primary Medical Reviewer
||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Susanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology
||June 15, 2011