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< Lung Program Overview

Your Lung Treatment Plan

Start Your Journey

Start Your Lung Transplant Application

Your medical records and application to our lung transplant program are more than paperwork. It's your story, our transplant team's window into your medical history and the first step toward healthy new lungs. From your first name to your last lab report, every little piece of information you share helps paint a bigger picture that arms us with the knowledge we need to start you on the right path to the right lung treatment plan for you. That's why it's so important to cross every "t," dot every "i" and read every word.

CONTACT YOUR LUNG COORDINATOR TO START YOUR APPLICATION

We know waiting isn't easy. But we hope it helps to know that once we receive your medical records, your information is in good hands and your well-being is on our minds. Your transplant team will carefully review your application and medical records to see if you meet our lung transplant criteria. Once it's reviewed, your financial coordinator will work with your insurance to help you understand what medical and medication coverage is available to you. The second we get the green light, we'll be in touch to help you take the next step: Evaluation.

Read About Evaluation
Evaluation

Patient Evaluation: Our Personalized Approach

Our personalized lung transplant evaluation process is designed to ensure you have a successful lung transplant and the resources you need to care for it. Over the course of several weeks, you and your caregiver will get to know your transplant care team while undergoing a series of medical tests. It's an integrated process that's as much about assessing your physical health as it is your emotional health. Just as important, it's an opportunity for you to share your questions and concerns, introduce us to your caregiver, and talk about what to expect before, during and after your lung transplant.

Lab and Diagnostic Testing

Our confidence in your body's ability to undergo a successful lung transplant procedure begins with a comprehensive of lab and diagnostic testing. We'll guide you and your caregivers through the following tests in the comfort of our state-of-the-art Orlando facility:

  • Complete blood workup
  • Ultrasound exam of lungs and other abdominal organs and blood vessels
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac stress test
  • Echocardiogram (a lung exam done by ultrasound)
  • Right lung catheterization
  • Nuclear Medicine Scans for Gastric Emptying
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Kidney function
  • Swallow functions
  • Bone density
  • Specialized testing of your oxygen needs
  • CT Scans of your chest
  • Your transplant pulmonologist and transplant coordinator will walk you through your test results and any additional testing needs.

Meeting Your Transplant Team

Our patients and their caregivers often say their transplant team becomes like a second family. So it's only natural that the first step is getting to know each specialist on your transplant team. And even though these are one-on-one meetings, your dedicated health team stays closely connected throughout your evaluation process through close communication and innovative technology.

Your Social Worker is here from day one to support your journey and make sure you're mentally and emotionally ready to undergo a lung transplant. Their line of questioning will be geared toward preparing you and your caregivers to take care of your new lung transplant by following the medical team’s recommendations. If they feel you need additional resources, whether it's housing or financial assistance, they'll help connect you to the right resources in your community.

Your Dietitian is focused on keeping you as healthy as possible before, during and after surgery. Nutrition plays a critical role before, during and after surgery, so it's essential that you follow your dietitian's meal plan morning, noon and night. They'll help you stay mindful about what you put into your body leading up to lung transplant surgery and help you understand how certain medications may affect your appetite and/or interact with certain foods and substances. After surgery, your dietitian will create a detailed eating guide designed to keep your new transplant working like new.

Your Transplant Pulmonologist will review your test results and your medical history in detail, addressing any unanswered questions or concerns. If more tests are necessary, they'll guide you through what needs to happen next.

Your Transplant Surgeon is working toward your successful lung transplant and long-term health. During this meeting, they'll walk you through what to expect before, during and after surgery.

These are meant to be candid conversations with a group of people who are as invested in your lung health as you are. Bring the questions that keep you up at night. Bring your support person. And bring your fighting spirit.

Patient Review Committee

Once you've met with every person on your transplant team and your test results have been processed, your transplant coordinator will present your case to the Patient Review Committee. Together, they'll review your case to determine your best course of treatment. If your team is confident a transplant is the best option for you, your name will be placed on the national organ waiting list.

Multiple Listings

While you're taking charge of your health, you have the right to be evaluated by different transplant centers. Just let us know if you've already been evaluated by another center so we can avoid duplicate testing and move your evaluation along faster. Our team can help obtain these records. Remember that each center evaluates and accepts patients based on their own criteria, and being listed at one center doesn't guarantee that every center will accept you.

Read About Waiting List
Waiting List

We'll carry the weight of waiting with you.

We know the question that keeps you up at night: "How long will I wait?" We can't answer that question with certainty. But we can tell you that our median wait time is 6.1 days. Your transplant coordinator will keep you informed from the moment your name is put on the list, to the second we find the right lung for you. And during the moments in-between, when you're waiting for the phone to ring, we're here to answer your questions and support you with a listening ear.

Lung Transplant Pre-Education Class

We've seen first-hand that patient education is key to a successful lung transplant. The more you and your support system know about how to care for yourself before, during and after your transplant, the more likely you are to follow your team's medical recommendations throughout the process. That's why before your name is added to the lung transplant waiting list, our transplant education team will provide you, your family and your caregiver through one-on-one education at our Orlando facility. We'll review each step of the lung transplant process in detail, from how the waiting list works to what resources are available to you after surgery and recovery. We encourage you and members of your support system to ask any questions you may have.

You'll also be required to attend a mandatory Pulmonary Rehab class to help prepare your body for surgery. During this session, your team will guide you through breathing techniques, lung function tests and physical conditioning, all performed under the care and monitoring of our specially trained staff, which includes a respiratory therapist.

How the Lung Transplant Waiting List Works

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) manages the list of everyone across the country who is waiting for an organ transplant. Once your transplant care coordinator adds you to the list, your information — including your blood type, medical urgency and our institute's location — is entered into UNOS' computerized network. When a donor lung is available, the donor's information is entered into the UNOS system. Using the combination of your information and the donor's, the UNOS computer system generates a "match run," a "rank-order list" of candidates. How long you wait depends on various medical and logistical factors, including:

  • How long you've been waiting
  • Blood type and tissue compatibility
  • The lung's location in relation to the Transplant Institute
  • How well your body is expected to receive the transplant

What Can You Do While You Wait?

Resolve to focus on the things you can control: your day-to-day health and habits. And during the moments in-between, when you're waiting for the phone to ring, we're here to answer your questions and support you with a listening ear. Choose salad over sweets. Get in steps where you can. Keep up with your routine health screenings, from dental visits to eye exams. Focusing on your whole health is the best way to make sure that when the right lung becomes available, your mind and body are ready to receive it well.

Be sure to let us know if you have any address, name or insurance changes and let your transplant coordinator know of any illness, surgery or hospitalization. You should also put a plan in place for when you do receive the call. Your new lung will need to be transplanted within six hours, so make arrangements to get to the Florida Hospital Transplant Institute in Orlando immediately. Make sure you have a designated driver, reliable transportation and a travel bag packed at all times.

Getting the Call

Your transplant care coordinator will be the first to call you the moment we think we have the right lung or lungs for you. Most patients say it's a moment they'll never forget. Let it sink in. Then make your way to our Transplant Institute right away for final evaluation and pre-op. Don't eat, drink or take any medication after you receive the call. We'll be here waiting to prep you for your surgery.

Read About Surgery
Surgery

What to Expect With Lung Transplant Surgery

The moment you arrive for surgery pre-op, we'll be ready. Your transplant care team will walk you and your family through the entire procedure from start to finish and answer any questions you may have.

Helping You Understand the Risks

As with any surgery, there are risks, but we're here to help you understand the potential complications. Some specific lung transplantation risks may include:

  • Organ failure. Your new lung(s) may fail to function properly.
  • Tissue rejection. Our bodies are smart, and when you receive your new lung(s), your immune system will sense the new tissue. We’ll give you immunosuppressive medications to help your body accept its new lung(s).
  • Infection. Our team will monitor you closely and help you understand the signs of potential infection as you recover.
  • Immunosuppressive medications’ side effects.

We've made incredible strides over the last few decades, and while the possibility of risks will always exist, lung transplantation has never been a safer, more effective long-term solution. After we've answered all your questions, we'll ask you to sign a consent form, giving us your permission to perform your lung transplant.

Before Surgery

After you sign the consent form, your transplant care team will complete a physical examination to be 100% sure your body is ready for surgery, including blood tests and chest X-rays. If necessary, your team will take additional steps to get you ready for surgery. Your nurse will set you up with an IV line to administer medications as needed. And if you need a hand to hold, we can do that too.

During Surgery

As you get your new lung, you'll be surrounded by our world-renowned team of cardiothoracic specialists. Your team will place you on a heart-lung bypass machine to maintain oxygenation and blood supply to your body. Your anesthesiologist will monitor your lung rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level throughout your surgery. Length of surgery and other details of your surgery may vary depending on your specific condition, but most lung transplants take approximately six hours and are done under general anesthesia.

After Surgery

This is where the road to recovery and a healthy new life begins. No patient's plan is the same, and how long you stay in the hospital depends on a variety of factors, but most patients stay anywhere between two and three weeks after a lung transplant. You'll likely spend the first 24-48 hours in the intensive care unit before you're transferred to the progressive care unit for the rest of your hospital stay. We'll monitor you closely through daily exams, regular blood work and various radiologic tests to make sure your lung is working as expected, and that no infections are present. Your dedicated team will also guide you through exercises and therapies designed to keep your lungs clear and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Read About Staying Healthy
Staying Healthy

Life After a Lung Transplant

Our journey doesn't end with surgery. We’ll guide your recovery every step of the way, empowering you with the information, tools and resources you need to care for your new lung(s) throughout your life's journey.

Outpatient Institute Visits

Once you're cleared to leave the hospital, your team will continue to help ease your transition to independent living. You'll leave Florida Hospital armed with detailed instructions, a supply of meds and a list of phone numbers to contact for any questions or emergencies.

We'll be in close, regular contact with you through your nurse coordinator. Our team can help arrange local housing, whether at the Bartch Transplant House (if you meet the requirements) or elsewhere.

After one month, we'll reduce your visits to every two weeks, and eventually, to once a month. At the end of your first year, we'll refer you back to your transplant coordinator for routine care, and we'll see you back at our transplant Institute every year for your annual visit.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Treating your new lung with care means treating your body well. Eat smart. Exercise with heart. And never forget the physical, emotional and mental challenges your mind and body have overcome. Your transplant team will create a detailed health and maintenance plan, from diet and exercise recommendations, to how to avoid infection.

Medications

Anti-rejection medications will be part of your daily routine from this day forward. Without them, your body may begin to reject your new lung. Your transplant team will give you detailed instructions on how and when to take your medications and immunosuppressants. You'll also have a bronchoscopy to assess your lungs at cell level and proactively monitor for lung infections. We'll perform pulmonary function tests to make sure your lungs are working properly and perform regular labs to monitor drug levels.

Transplant Support Groups

Sharing your experience with other lung and organ transplant patients can be an essential part of the recovery and maintenance process for many patients. We'll connect you to local and national resources online and in your community.

Staying Connected

We're part of your story and you're part of ours. In addition to your annual physician visits to our Institute, we keep our team-patient connections going strong through annual events like our annual Patient and Family Picnic and the GR8 to DON8 race.