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Lung Transplant Process

At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, our specialists understand it can be overwhelming to consider a lung transplant. As you learn more about the lung transplant process, we can help you decide on the best treatment plan for your unique situation and provide peace of mind. 

Our team is one of the most experienced in the world for performing lung transplants. Our surgeons have performed more than 1,600 of these procedures in adults, illustrating our extensive expertise.

Lung Transplant: Our Approach to Care

Our lung transplant team includes pulmonologists (lung experts), transplant surgeons and transplant nurse coordinators, among others. Together, these specialists provide comprehensive, personalized care for patients throughout the lung transplant process. Your nurse coordinator works closely with you to streamline every step of your care.

Some of the many features of our approach include:

  • An efficient wait list: In recent years, the national wait time for a transplant has dropped from two years to four months. At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the wait time is even shorter because we work with Mid-America Transplant. At this organ procurement organization (OPO), doctors and nurses work to increase the number of available organs and the chance they can be transplanted.
  • High-risk patients: We have performed lung transplants for many patients who were unable to receive a transplant at other centers. These high-risk cases include patients in their 70s. We may also accept patients who are high-risk because of health problems such as reflux, difficulty swallowing and some heart conditions.
  • Patient-centered care: Our program ensures that your goals and preferences remain at the center of your care. In addition, patient and family education and support allow you to better focus on your health.
  • Ongoing care for the life of transplant: After lung transplant, our doctors, nurses, nurse coordinators and other specialists provide long-term follow-up care. This care includes managing medications needed to prevent organ rejection, as well as treating other conditions that may result from taking these medications.

The Lung Transplant Process

Our specialists guide you through every part of the lung transplant process. Your doctors and transplant nurse coordinator discuss any questions you or your loved ones may have. Typically, the lung transplant process consists of:

  1. Referral: When your pulmonologist or doctor refers you for a lung transplant evaluation, we assign a designated transplant nurse coordinator to you. The coordinator ensures good communication between you and the transplant team, collects necessary medical records and schedules the transplant evaluation.
  2. Evaluation: Our physicians, nurses and other providers conduct a thorough medical and psychosocial (mental and social health) evaluation. This evaluation helps us understand your physical condition and any circumstances that might affect your recovery after receiving a lung transplant.
  3. Wait list: If our transplant team determines that you’re a candidate for a lung transplant, you go on a wait list that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains. Learn more about what to expect while on the list.
  4. Presurgery pulmonary rehabilitation: All patients attend pulmonary rehabilitation sessions while waiting for a transplant. These sessions keep patients in the best physical condition possible, making them more likely to have a successful surgery and recover quickly.
  5. Surgery: Once we find a suitable donor, we call you to the hospital for the surgery. Find out more about lung transplant surgery.
  6. Recovery: People typically stay in the hospital for about three weeks after a lung transplant. During this time, a team of specialists prepares you for long-term posttransplant care. This team includes the transplant surgeon, pulmonologists, the posttransplant nurse coordinator, pulmonary rehabilitation therapists, dietitians and social workers.
  7. Follow-up: After you are discharged from the hospital, our posttransplant nurse coordinator stays in regular contact to track your recovery. You also return periodically to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for follow-up exams. Over time, we transition more of your routine care to your primary care physician. For continuity of care and to ensure the best outcomes, we follow our patients for the life of their transplant.

Contact Us

For more information on the lung transplant program or to schedule an evaluation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 866.888.9337.