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Before Your Lung Transplant

Lung Transplant Assessments and Tests

When you begin the pre-lung transplant process at UPMC a transplant coordinator will be assigned to you. He or she will guide you through each step of the process, including a series of lung transplant tests.

To determine your candidacy for lung transplant evaluation, the transplant team will:

  • Review your medical history
  • Verify your health insurance benefits

When these steps have been cleared, your evaluation may be scheduled.

The Lung Transplant Team

Your lung transplant team will help you with all aspects of transplant, including the:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Financial
  • Social

Your care team includes:

  • Lung transplant coordinator
  • Pulmonologists
  • Lung transplant surgeons
  • Nutritionist
  • Pharmacist
  • Social worker
  • Credit analysts
  • Psychologist

Pre-Lung Transplant Evaluation and Tests

The outpatient transplant evaluation takes up to a week to complete. It always begins on a Monday, with an educational class.

You are required to bring a caregiver with you to each appointment. This person must meet with the transplant team and understand his or her role before, during, and after your lung transplant.

During your pre-lung transplant evaluation, you will have a range of exams including:

  • Imaging scans
  • Lab work
  • Diagnostic tests

You and your caregiver must also attend a pre-lung transplant education class. This class reviews the risks, benefits, and expectations of receiving a lung transplant.

Pre-lung transplant tests

Lung transplant assessments you may need include:

  • Barium swallow
  • Dopplers (bilateral lower extremity and carotid)
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan
  • Heart catheterization
  • Desaturation studies
  • Pulmonary function tests (PFT)
  • Echocardiogram
  • 6-minute walk test
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • VQ scan
  • Blood work
  • Manometry
  • Sniff study

These tests will provide comprehensive data for the lung transplant team to assess the function of your heart, lungs and other body systems to determine if you are a candidate for transplant.

Whenever possible, the transplant team will look for other ways to treat your lung failure and avoid performing a lung transplant too early.

Lung Transplant Waiting List

Your test results will be reviewed by the lung transplant selection committee.They will decide if you're an eligible candidate for listing on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) lung transplant waiting list. Prior to being placed on the list your insurance company has to provide approval.

Insurance companies may require additional documentation (Health Maintenance). Once your insurance is confirmed, your coordinator will discuss timing of listing on UNOS.

You must be nicotine free for 6 months before we can place you on the wait list.

Living Close to Pittsburgh While Waiting for a Lung

Wait times for a donor lung vary. While on the lung transplant wait list, you:

  • Need to be able to get to UPMC within 4 hours. This will ensure that you can get to the hospital in time when a donor lung becomes available. Family House offers affordable housing for people coming to Pittsburgh for lung failure treatment but is not a medical facility.
  • Be accessible by phone 24 hours a day.
  • Must check in with your lung transplant coordinator at a minimum of every 2 weeks to update us on your medical status.
  • Will have regular pulmonary tests every 3 months.
  • Meet with the transplant surgical team every 6 months.

You will be cared for through UPMC's Comprehensive Lung Center. You should also be seeing your local pulmonologist to continue with medical care.

UPMC has a successful history of using ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) as a bridge to lung transplant.

ECMO is a machine that will oxygenate and purify your blood outside your body. This takes the stress off your heart and lungs and gives them a chance to rest and heal.

The transplant team is here for you throughout the transplant process. Do not hesitate to call the Cardiothoracic Transplant office at 412-648-6202 or toll free at 844-548-4591 for additional information.

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