A lung transplant is a possible treatment option for a mesothelioma patient whose respiratory health has deteriorated to a level at which doctors predict that the patient will not live long without a healthy replacement lung. However, lung transplant surgery is a major undertaking. Consequently, not every mesothelioma patient is healthy enough to survive lung transplant surgery.

Even when a mesothelioma patient is healthy enough to undergo lung transplant surgery, the patient may not live to see it. This is because lung transplant surgery requires an organ donor. Unfortunately, it can take several months to find a suitable donor, and this may be too long for a mesothelioma patient who urgently needs a lung transplant to wait.

Lung Transplant Surgery 

Lung transplant surgery may have to be performed with very little notice, such as when a lung donor becomes available following a fatal accident. This is because lungs are very fragile and can only be preserved outside the body for about 5 or 6 hours. However, there may be more time to prepare for the donor if the donor’s death is anticipated, such as when a donor has a terminal illness.

Once a donor is found, the donor’s lungs are removed and immediately transported to the facility where the recipient will undergo lung transplant surgery. Before the lung transplant surgery, the recipient is placed under general anesthesia. Once unconscious, the lung recipient is cut open to remove the diseased lung and replace it with a new one. Sometimes, the recipient will have both lungs replaced. 

During lung transplant surgery, the recipient’s heart stops, but a heart-lung bypass machine and an artificial breathing machine are used to maintain the body’s stability. Once the diseased lung is removed, the donor lung is put in place and tested for viability and health. If everything goes well, the recipient’s chest is closed. Following the lung transplant surgery, the patient will spend several days in an intensive care unit for observation. During this time, there is a chance that the recipient’s body might reject the new lung or lungs.

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If you, or a family member, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and need a lung transplant, our experienced lawyers can explain you legal rights and options.

Published November 17, 2011 by