If you've been listed for a single or double lung transplant you probably have some questions. Our guide offers the answers you're looking for, and helps you prepare for your operation.
Single Lung Transplant
The surgery may take 6 or more hours. Your surgeon removes the diseased lung from either side, right or left, through a 15-30 cm incision. Your remaining lung is supported by oxygen through a ventilator and the donor lung is placed in your chest, where your diseased lung has been removed. Your surgeon attaches the artery and the donor lung to your heart.
Your new lung will be attached to your body by three connections.
Your surgeons will perform a bronchoscopy (using fibre optic camera) to look at the new airways. They may also perform an echocardiogram, to examine the attachment of the blood vessels from the new lung to your heart.
Once the operation is complete, we will use staples to close the incision. We take out the staples in 2-3 weeks.
You then leave the operating room to go the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Once you are breathing comfortably without the help of a breathing machine (ventilator), your breathing tube is removed and you are transferred to a "step down" unit, and then the transplant patient ward.
The average hospital stay is 14 to 21 days, and generally, you will be asked to stay in the Toronto area for about 3 months.
Double Lung Transplant
A double lung transplant may take up to 12 hours. Your surgeon will make a horizontal incision across your lower chest (also called a "clamshell" incision) underneath your breasts. The bottom part of your breastbone (sternum) will be cut during the operation and reattached with wires. No other bones are cut.
Your surgeon removes your lungs and attaches the bronchus, artery and veins of the donor lungs to your heart. Sometimes the donor's lungs may be too large for the chest, and only a portion of the donor lungs will be used.
Your surgeon may need to temporarily support breathing and circulation with an artificial heart and lung machine while they work.
The new donor lungs are then attached. Just as with the single lung transplant, there will be three connections for each lung.
During the surgery, the surgeons will perform a bronchoscopy (fibre optic camera) to look at the new airways. They may also perform an echocardiogram in the operating room to examine your heart function and the attachment of the blood vessels from the new lungs to your heart.
The muscle layers of your chest are stitched together and the skin is closed with staples. The staples go along the line of the incision. We take out the staples in 2-3 weeks after surgery. You will be moved to the intensive care unit where life support will be slowly discontinued as you breathe with your new lungs.
While you are in the operating room, your family can wait in the surgical waiting room on the third floor of the Peter Munk Building (PMB Elevators), or the ICU waiting room on the 10th floor (PMB Elevators). When your surgery is over, your surgeon will come to talk to your family.
One organ and tissue donor can save up to 8 lives and improve life for up to 75 others.