Normal lungs are very elastic and spongy organs that sit under your ribs. Each lung is divided into lobes. The right lung has 3 lobes and the left has two lobes.
When you breathe in (inhale) you take air into your lungs. The oxygen in the air is passed into your blood and carried through your body. The carbon dioxide in your blood is passed into the lungs. When you breathe out (exhale) the carbon dioxide is carried away.
The first lung transplant was in 1963. Between 1963 and 1981 nearly forty lung transplants were done throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. At that time, the longest amount of time that a patient survived after a lung transplant was eight months. Deaths after transplant were due to infection and rejection of the new lung(s). This included a chronic form of rejection called bronchiolitis obliterans. Since the early 1980’s, newer medications that prevent these problems have led to better success rates.
Currently, hospitals world-wide report that patients have a 70-80% change of living at least one year after surgery with 46% of all patients living at least five years. The longest living survivor to date is about ten years from transplant. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), reports that 956 lung transplants were done throughout the United States in 2000.
The number of patients waiting for lung transplantation continues to grow. In 2000, for every five patients on the lung transplant waiting list, there were three patients transplanted and two patients who died. Because of this shortage, you may have to wait two years or longer for a new lung(s).
There are three types of lung transplant operations: a single lung, both (bilateral) lungs and a heart/lung transplant. The type of transplant you need will be discussed during your evaluation with your health care professional.
(Reference: University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. http://www.uwhealth.com)
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