Lungs are amongst the most vital organs in the living body and are a must for survival. Normal humans have two healthy lungs though a single healthy lung is also enough for survival. Lungs are the main organ responsible for respiration and all other related biological process. These are present in the thoracic cavity of the chest. The main function of lungs is to transfer the inhaled oxygen to the bloodstream and to absorb the carbon dioxide from the bloodstream and finally exhale it out from the body. Lungs are vital since they are carriers of oxygen into the blood and oxygen is a must for all biological processes and hence for human survival.
Lung Transplant is the surgical process of replacing deceased lungs of an individual partially or wholly with donor’s lung’s lobe. Sometimes an individual needs only one lung to be transplanted for his or her survival but some other times both the lungs must be transplanted to ensure patient’s survival. Usually, the individuals suffering from one or the other kind of end-stage pulmonary diseases qualify for a lung transplant.
Indications for Lung Transplantation
There are many reasons for an individual to undergo lung transplantation surgery. It can be due to some old and long lasting pulmonary disease or due to some health issue that has developed recent past. Following are the various indications for a lung transplant surgery.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD) - is a collective term referring to a number of lung diseases.. Smoking is the major reason of COPD. People suffering from this lung ailment usually find it difficult to breathe and are in need of lung transplant if the ailment gets severe.
- Cystic Fibrosis (CF) - Cystic fibrous or CF refers to the lungs’ ailment in which lungs and digestive system get partially blocked due to the presence of thick, sticky mucus. Lung transplant is the only option for survival in case of patients suffering from severe Cystic fibrous.
- Pulmonary Hypertension - Pulmonaryhypertension refers to the elevated blood pressure in blood vessels that run between heart and lung and carry blood to and from these two organs –the pulmonary arteries. Lung transplant remains the only option to treat long-lasting pulmonary hypertension.
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) - When people suffer from Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, their lung tissues become scarred, thick and stiff with time. Breathing actually becomes a significant issue for people suffering from this ailment. Lung transplant is the only hope for the survival of patients suffering from IPF.
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficeincy (AAT deficiency) - Prolonged smoking causes significant AAT deficiency in the human body and hence can lead to different types of fatal lung diseases. Lung transplant is the only option that remains for patients suffering from extreme AAT deficiency.
- Cancer - Lung cancer is another indication for a lung transplant. Depending upon the stage of cancer, patient’s age, and chances of survival and many other critical factors, lung transplantation of cancerous lungs is carried out.
Contra-Indications for Lung Transplantation - Lung transplantation is a critical medical procedure, and not everyone qualifies for the same. There are many patients who are in need of lung transplantation due to one or the other reason, but not all of them can have it, as the patients need to be very particular about their medicines, follow-ups, diets, etc. after the surgery. Below are some of the contra-indications to a Lung Transplant:-
- Recent history of Cancer - Patients currently suffering from cancer or have suffered from it in last 2 years do not qualify for lung transplantation procedure since cancer can affect newly transplanted lung and can lead to transplant failure.
- Concurrent chronic illness
Any kind of concurrent chronic illness, such as kidney diseases, liver diseases, diseases related to heart, etc., acts as a contraindication for lung transplantation procedure.
People suffering from major infections, like Hepatitis and HIV, do not qualify for lung transplantation procedure in most of the cases depending on the severity of the infection.
- Smoking and Tobacco
Smoking is amongst the major reasons of a lung transplant in most of the cases. So if the patient is unable to quit smoking or tobacco, then he or she is not allowed to undergo lung transplantation surgery.
Lung transplantation surgery is a major surgical, medical treatment and requires the patient to be fit and fine. Usually, the patients who are above 72 years old are not allowed to undergo this treatment.
- Psychiatric conditions
Patients with mental illnesses or psychiatric issues are unable to take medicines regularly after the surgery and cannot even follow strict diet schedules and regular follow-ups.
- Lung diseases that can affect the newly transplanted lung
In case the patient suffers from such lung disease that can affect the recently transplanted lung in an adverse manner than he or she is restricted from undergoing lung transplantation.