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A lung transplant is when an operation is required to remove a diseased lung and replace it with a healthy lung from a donor. This type of operation is not carried out that frequently within the UK due to lack of donors.
The operation is used to treat those with advanced lung disease who fail to respond to other treatments or if the life expectancy of the patient is thought to be less than two to three years without the operation.
Conditions that might fulfil these criteria are:
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
There are several types of lung transplant which include:
Single lung transplant
Double lung transplant
Heart and lung transplant
Due to the lack of availability of donor lungs, these operations are only carried out if it is thought there will be a good outcome.
Those that currently smoke would not be considered for transplant and similarly those with lung cancer would not, due to the risk of the cancer re-occurring in the transplanted lung .
The lung transplant itself is quite lengthy procedure dependent on which operation is undertaken so can last between four and twelve hours.
There are obvious risks associated with this type of surgery as there are for any major surgery, but with transplants there is always the risk of rejection. All those having any type of transplant will have to take anti rejection drugs so rejection is less likely to happen but these drugs also have side effects, and can make you much more vulnerable to infection due to your immune system being reduced.
The outlook for those having had transplants varies and the transplant can last from between 1 year and there have been reported case lasting twenty years.
More information can be found at NHS Choices .