5 Myths About Lung Transplants
Prof. Daniel Chambers from the Queensland Lung Transplant Service, at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, debunks ten myths about lung transplants for pulmonary fibrosis patients and other patients with lung problems. Read about five of the myths here:
Myth 1. “Lung Transplantation is an experimental treatment.”
Lung transplant was considered “revolutionary” when it was first performed in Canada, in 1983. Nowadays, it’s a well-established treatment for patients suffering from advanced lung diseases. Over 40,000 transplants have been successfully performed worldwide.
Myth 2. “You’re too old to have a transplant.”
Although lung transplantation is considered a high-risk procedure, especially at an older age, most programs worldwide accept patients up to 65 years old. However, by the age of 70 the risk of transplant increases high enough that the option is too risky. That line of thought is often debated and changed depending on the overall health of the individual patient. Chambers expects in the near future, that lung transplants will be a viable option for otherwise healthy candidates — regardless of age.
Myth 3.”Lung transplantations only last a short time, so they are not worthwhile.”
Nowadays, it’s normal to expect prolonged survival. Most patients who undergo the transplant return to a regular life of work, travel, enjoying time with family — you name it.
Myth 4. “The heart is a more important and complex organ than the lungs.”
While it’s true that you can’t survive without a heart, you also cannot survive without your lungs functioning! Nevertheless, it’s still “easier” to live without much heart function, with mechanical support, while awaiting a heart transplant. Lungs have a more complex system that needs to accurately match blood flow with gas flow at the same time, while simultaneously needing to be protected from the “outside world”. In contrast the heart is a relatively simple pump and can be more easily replicated by a mechanical support. Scientists say that artificial, biocompatible hearts may be a reality in the near future, but artificial lungs are “probably 30 years away” due to their complexity.
Myth 5. “Two lungs are way better than one.”
It’s a reality that a double lung transplant is better, but a single lung transplant serves as an excellent treatment option in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) because the scarring nature of the disease can make it difficult to find a suitable double lung donor.
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