​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​After Your Operation

On this page, you can read all about what to expect during your hospital stay. Or, just click on one of the links below, to get the answer you want right now.​

What will happen right after my operation?

You will wake up in the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU)​. The average stay there is 2 to 3 days, but varies with each recipient. Our first priority is making sure your new lung are working well. Your transplant team will watch you closely for signs and symptoms of any complications (rejection or infection) and will make changes to your care as needed.

  • Initially, you will have an endotracheal (ET) tube through your mouth into your windpipe to help with your breathing. This is connected to a breathing machine called a ventilator. The ventilator breathes for you during your surgery and during the early period after surgery. You will have drainage tubes in your chest called chest tubes for up to 2 weeks. These tubes drain fluid and air from the spaces around the lungs and the heart.
  • You will have a catheter in your bladder to drain your urine and you will receive IV fluids for fluids and medication.
  • A Nasogastric Tube will be inserted in your stomach until you are able to take in enough food. Your diet will gradually change from liquids to solid foods, as tolerated.
  • Blood samples will be taken frequently to check the status of the new lung, as well as other body functions.
  • You will remain in the ICU until your lung function is stable and you are able to breath on your own.
  • ​We also ask that you designate only ONE family member to act as family spokesperson, calling the ICU for periodic updates.
How will I feel after my operation?
  • Once you have recovered from the anesthetic, you will feel some pain in your chest at the site of your incision. You may also feel stiffness and aches in other areas.
  • You will have to take pain medicine, as needed. It will help you start moving around, sitting, and walking sooner.
  • ​Our pain management team will work with you to make sure your pain is well managed.

The Next Steps​
  1. Step-down Unit: The Acute Care Unit (ACU).
    • After the M/S-ICU you will be transferred to the Transplant Step-down Unit, which is also referred to as the Acute Care Unit (ACU).
    • The ACU is on 10AWest, across the hall from the M/S-ICU. You will be admitted here for several days as your condition improves. The setup is similar to the ICU with private rooms however each nurse in Step-down cares for more than one patient.
  2. After the ACU – Care on the Transplant Unit
    • ​You will complete your recovery on the Transplant Unit on 7 West A – PMB. The staff will help you recover, gain strength, and learn how to manage with your organ transplant. The nurses on the Transplant Unit are specially trained to care for transplant recipients.​​
How can I take care of myself after my operation?

After the operation, you will immediately begin treatment with medication designed to prevent your immune system from rejecting your new lung. These types of medications are known as immunosuppressants. You will now take these medications for life. ​

Moving your body is an important part of your recovery. Movement will help protect your skin from pressure sores and keep your lungs clear. It will be painful because of the incision site and chest tubes. The nursing staff will assist you to move and make you as comfortable as possible.​

  • Start some deep breathing and coughing exercises. This is most important. It will help improve your lung function and prevent developing pneumonia. We'll show you a breathing exercise called Incentive Spirometry​.
  • Wiggle your toes and move your feet. This helps the blood in your legs to circulate.
  • You will be encouraged to sit up and walk as soon as you are able.
  • Sitting up in a chair, performing self-care, and walking in the hallway are excellent ways to improve your strength and stamina.

Nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists, and other members of the transplant team will teach you how to take care of yourself once you are discharged from the hospital.​

Will I learn about my medication?

On the ​Transplant Inpatient Unit, you will learn about your new life with a lung transplant, including how and when to take your new transplant medicines and any side effects you may have. You will meet with one of our transplant pharmacists. The pharmacist will answer any questions you may have about your new medicines. You can also visit our patient toolbox to learn more about your transplant medicines and life after transplant.

How long will I stay in the hospital?​
  • Your health care team will talk to you about your stay once you're out of the Acute Care Unit (ACU)​.You can expect to be in the hospital for 7 to 14 days, but varies with each recipient, and can take several weeks.
  • Before you leave the hospital, your transplant team will give you a schedule that will tell you how and when to take all of your transplant medicines and when you will need to come to the hospital for regular blood tests and clinic visits.​
  • Your schedule will be based on your progress and your health care team's recommendations. Over time, your clinic visits and blood tests will become less frequent.​​​​

​​​​​​Learn more about your stay

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