Living Donation

Who Is a Lung Transplant Candidate?

When you have end-stage lung disease, and no longer see results with medical therapy, you may meet the criteria to be a lung transplant candidate at UPMC.

At the UPMC Lung Transplant Program, we consider each person referred to our program — even if other centers have said that you are not a candidate.

Our surgeons are skilled in performing transplants for people with smaller chest sizes or problems like reflux that can complicate the procedure.

Lung Transplant Candidate Criteria

Our team meets with people who have conditions that cause lung failure to see if they might be good candidates for lung transplant.

A lung transplant can help those who have:

Exclusion criteria for lung transplant

The UPMC Lung Transplant team makes every attempt to ensure that people chosen for transplant evaluation are the most suitable for the surgery.

You may not be a good candidate if you have a body mass index (BMI) above 35.

Before you can begin the lung transplant evaluation process, you must be free of:

  • Cancer for at least 5 years. There are exceptions for certain types of cancers. Ask your doctor for details.
  • Nicotine for at least 6 months.
    This includes —
    • Cigarettes
    • Cigars
    • Smokeless tobacco
    • E-cigarettes
    • Patches, gum, or any other form of pharmaceutical nicotine
    • Nicotine vaping
  • Substance abuse
    • Marijuana
    • Cocaine/heroin
    • Other illicit substances

You must also be willing and able to make lifestyle changes to support the gift of life that a lung transplant provides.

Lung Transplant Risks and Benefits

For most people, lung transplant leads to a longer, fuller life.

You may need a single lung transplant or double lung transplant, depending on your specific lung condition.

For more information on our program's outcomes visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients website.

Although many lung transplants occur with little to no problems, there are some risks including:

  • Rejection of the donor lung
  • Infection
  • Primary graft dysfunction (when the lungs don't function right away)

These complications happen in about 10 to 20 percent of surgeries. They lead to longer hospital stays, increased recovery time and in some cases even death.

The UPMC Lung Transplant Program uses innovative surgical methods and medications to help prevent or quickly respond to these complications.

Despite the risks, the benefits from lung transplant are remarkable.

If you aren't yet a lung transplant candidate, we can work with you to manage your lung disease at the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center.

Refer a Patient to UPMC