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Vaidehi Kaza, M.D. Answers Questions On Lung Transplant

Vaidehi Kaza, M.D. Answers Questions On: Lung Transplant

What should lung transplantation patients keep in mind about the process?

The most common misconception is that you come in to have surgery, you get a new set of lungs, and you're done.

Lung transplantation is not a cure for the disease that a patient has. It is a treatment option.

Patients and their families need to understand the importance of good maintenance and protecting the lungs that they receive. That means taking their medications on time and making sure they follow our instructions in terms of protocols and follow-up procedures to see if the lungs are working as they should.

It's an ongoing process that requires extreme caution to keep the lungs in the best shape.

What problems can occur after a lung transplant?

Patients often have side effects from the medications. We use medications to suppress the immune system and prevent the body from rejecting the new lungs. They are also on medications to prevent new infections. Everything is very regulated in terms of the timing of the medications.

Patients can also have problems adjusting to the new lifestyle that follows a transplant. The whole body needs to adjust; it's not just the lungs. Exercise, diet, and psychological stability are very important for successful outcomes.

What advances have improved lung transplantation?

Patients on breathing machines usually cannot move. New ambulatory extracorporeal membrane oxygenation technology lets them get up and exercise. This helps them stay strong while they are waiting for the lung transplantation.

A big problem is that there are many more patients on the wait list for lung transplantation than there are organs available. With ex-vivo perfusion, another advancement, donor lung utilization will increase.