Evaluation for Lung Transplant | Transplant | Loyola Medicine

Evaluation for Lung Transplant

Comprehensive Evaluation and Care for Potential Lung Transplant Recipients

Loyola Medicine provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for patients with advanced pulmonary disease whose best medical option is a lung transplant or multi-organ transplant. We understand that if you are considering a lung transplant, you have endured much because of your condition and want your life to return to normal. 

During your evaluation for lung transplant, Loyola’s expert transplant team will provide compassionate care and the most advanced treatment options available.

Why Choose Loyola for Lung Transplant?

Loyola’s Transplant Center, which has performed more than 825 lung and heart-lung transplants since 1988, has the medical expertise and technological resources to care for the most difficult respiratory system conditions—whether you need a heart-lung, double-lung or single-lung transplant. 

Loyola’s expert transplant team provides the most advanced and compassionate care to patients undergoing a transplant operation. As faculty at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, our pulmonologists perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments. In addition, our skilled and compassionate nurse coordinators work closely with patients, providing support and answering your questions—not only before treatment, but afterward as well.

According to the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation, Loyola’s lung transplant program is among the top 15 percent in the world with regard to volume, which leads to better outcomes.

Our one-month and three-year patient survival rates are better than the national average, as are our one-month and three-year graft survival rates. Our mortality rate is now 0 percent, as opposed to the national rate of 5.9 percent. Loyola is the only center in the United States to seamlessly perform five lung transplants in the span of a day, showing the dedication, drive and talent of our team.

Our lung transplant program provides a full range of services for advanced lung disease patients of all ages as they prepare for a lung or multi-organ transplant. Loyola has a reputation for treating the most acute cases of lung disease, and our youngest lung transplant patient was 15 years old.

What to Expect with Lung Transplant Evaluation

If you have endured a serious disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis, and your doctor has told you that your best medical option is a transplant, we understand that you will have many questions. A lung transplant evaluation is extensive and begins with your healthcare team confirming your diagnosis of end-stage lung disease.

The first step in your evaluation process will be to establish that you will be able to get to the Transplant Center within four hours of receiving the call that an organ or multi-organ donation is available. Next, your pulmonologist will take a detailed personal and medical history before conducting a physical examination, and several tests will be ordered to assess the status of your health. We will be there with you every step of the way, informing you of your test results and the next steps.

Depending on your condition, your doctor may require these tests, among others:

  • Mammogram
  • Multigated acquisition
  • Pap smear
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Right-heart catheterization
  • Six-minute treadmill test
  • Urine test
  • Ventilation perfusion test (VQ)

Some conditions are barriers to transplant surgery, including:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Inability to comply with treatment, such as following a strict immunosuppressive drug regimen
  • Lack of social and financial support
  • Obesity
  • Severe heart or vascular disease
  • Uncontrolled or untreatable mental illness

How to Prepare for Lung Transplant Evaluation

Once the results of your tests are in, you will meet with your entire medical team, which includes your pulmonologist, your surgeon, your nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, clinical pharmacists, dietitians, financial coordinators, radiologists, anesthesiologists and transplant chaplains. The Medical Review Board then will discuss your case and decide whether you are a good candidate for a lung or heart-lung transplant.

If the board approves you for transplant, you will be placed on the national waiting list with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Your wait time will depend on many factors, including your medical urgency, compatibility to the donor and geography (organs are matched within the same region whenever possible).

Your care team at Loyola will notify you when you have been added to the list. You can also ask your team about being added to regional lists to expedite the process. Many factors will affect how soon you will be offered a lung or heart-lung donation, including your state of health, blood/tissue types, where you live and your size and weight. 

Waiting for a donor can be a stressful time especially, because the wait time is unknown. We encourage you to participate in our support group, which will help you manage this stressful waiting time. Your nurse coordinators and pulmonologist will work closely with you to make sure you are thoroughly prepared for every step in the process.

You will continue any current treatments to prevent complications and should follow your individualized exercise plan and dietary guidelines. Your team will instruct you on all aspects of your upcoming surgery, recovery and life as an organ recipient. It is extremely important that you keep your scheduled appointments with your medical team and keep them informed of any changes in address, insurance, phone number or vacation plans. Your transplant team must be able to reach you within a moment’s notice if your donor organ becomes available. 

To learn more, read our lung transplant frequently asked questions or call us at 708-327-4TXP/708-327-4897.