Your lungs give oxygen to all the organs and tissues in your body. Oxygen is used throughout the body in chemical reactions to produce energy. The chemical reactions create carbon dioxide as a waste product. Carbon dioxide must then be removed from the body. This is called “gas exchange” (exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide). The lungs perform both sides of this vital gas exchange for the entire body, both taking in oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.
Your two lungs are located in the chest under the ribs. The lungs are protected and supported by the 12 pairs of ribs, the muscles which lie between the ribs, and the neck muscles. A healthy pair of lungs is soft and spongy. They are made up of elastic tissue that allows them to stretch.
The right lung is divided into three lobes, the upper, the middle and the lower lobes. The left lung is divided into two lobes, the upper and the lower lobes. The trachea (windpipe) delivers inhaled air into the lungs. The lungs themselves are made up of air passageways called bronchi. The airway branches look similar to those on a tree. Each branch becomes smaller and more numerous at each branching. The smallest of these branches end in the tiny gas exchange sacs called alveoli.
Learn more about
the respiratory system.
For some people, diseases will damage their lung or lungs, causing it to stop working properly. This is called
Common causes (diseases) for lung failure are:
A diseased lung cannot carry out its normal functions. People with lung disease or lung failure can have the following signs and symptoms:
Please note that not everyone will experience the same symptoms.
Depending on your type of lung disease, the only treatment for lung failure is to have a single (one lung) transplant or a bilateral (double) lung transplant.
We will help you understand the benefits and risks of having a lung transplant. This will give you the information to make an informed decision. If a transplant is recommended, the decision to proceed is up to you. We will support your choice whether you go forward with a transplant or not.
Some advantages and disadvantages are:
Many recipients experience:
All recipients have:
Our goal is to make your transplant as safe and as successful as possible. We will do everything we can to make your transplant work for you. We will work with you in making care decisions and help you to understand your treatments.
Most patients with advanced lung disease can be considered for a lung transplant. If you are interested in learning more about a lung transplant, talk to your doctor and ask him/her to fill out the
Physician Referral form.
After you have been referred from your lung doctor to the UHN Lung Transplant Program, you will go through an
evaluation process to find out if you are eligible for a lung transplant.
Lungs for transplantation can come from:
People who pass away and their family member wishes to donate their loved ones organs. In Ontario,
Trillium Gift of Life Network is the organization that takes care of the organ sharing system in Ontario.
Healthy people who wish to donate a portion of their lung. Living donor lung transplants are managed by the hospital. Your living lung donor could be your spouse, a family member, a friend, a coworker or even a stranger. Don't count anyone out as a possible donor.
UHN Lung Transplant Program will work with you to find out if your possible donor is a match with you and can donate a portion of their lungs to help you.
The amount of time that you may have to wait for a lung transplant is unknown.
Once you have been accepted for a transplant, there are several criteria to match a donor with the recipient:
One organ and tissue donor can save up to 8 lives and improve life for up to 75 others.