5 Myths About Lung Transplants
Professor Daniel Chambers from the Queensland Lung Transplant Service at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Australia debunks myths about lung transplants for cystic 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 option 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 transplant is considered a high-risk procedure, especially at older ages, most programs worldwide accept patients up to 65 years old. But by 70 years of age, a transplant becomes 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’re not worthwhile.
Nowadays, it’s normal to expect prolonged survival. Most patients who undergo a transplant return to regular life… working, traveling, 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 can’t survive without functioning lungs! 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 need 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 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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