The official blog of the Lung Institute.
A lung transplant may not be for everyone, but is it right for you?
When considering whether or not to receive a lung transplant, it’s important to know all the facts. For those living with chronic lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), finding an alternative method of treatment can be all-encompassing, as traditional treatment options such as inhalers, corticosteroids and oxygen therapy can only alleviate symptoms of lung disease rather than address the disease’s progression. Although a lung transplant can lead to a tremendous improvement in quality of life in the short term, the treatment option is notoriously expensive and not without its issues.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to breakdown the key facts behind Getting a Lung Transplant for COPD: Is It Right for Me?
What Is a Lung Transplant?
In the simplest terms, a lung transplant is a procedure replacing your lung(s) with one (or a set) that are donated. However, there are many steps involved in order to receive a transplant. First…
- A doctor will refer you to a regional transplant center
- You’ll meet with staff, doctors, social workers and psychologists to collect medical and personal information from you. This will be used to determine your candidacy for treatment.
- Disqualifying factors will be significant heart, liver or kidney disease; current smoking, alcohol or drug abuse; ongoing infections; or cancer.
- Once these factors have been accounted for and the patient has been approved as a transplant recipient candidate, they will be added to both a regional and national registry.
- When a set of lungs become available, you will be called to a transplant center to prepare for the surgery.
Although the process for receiving a donor lung is a long and arduous process, it is possible. Now that you know what are the general steps are to receiving a lung transplant, the next question becomes…
How Will a Lung Transplant Affect Me?
For many seeking a lung transplant, the benefits of a successful surgery are all too alluring. As perhaps one of the most effective methods of treatment for chronic lung disease, a lung transplant has shown the ability to bring back easier breathing, improved short-term quality of life and to provide years of life and longevity. After surgery, 80% of patients have reported they’ve seen no limitations in their physical activity. For those who’ve survived five years or more, 40% have continued to work at least part time.
However, as a last-resort alternative for patients with severe lung disease, a lung transplant is a serious surgery, inherent with a variety of risks and downsides. For starters, complications from a lung transplant are inevitable, meaning it’s just a matter of time before the body begins to reject the new organ. Currently, the lungs hold one of the highest rates of organ rejection among transplant recipients, meaning that a lifetime of immunosuppressive medication is an absolute necessity upon receiving a transplant. And unfortunately, the side-effects of these immunosuppressive drugs can cause a litany of long-term health issues such as diabetes, kidney damage, and vulnerability to new infections and illnesses.
Alternative Options in Stem Cell Therapy
Though a lung transplant has its benefits and drawbacks, the biggest obstacle for many seeking a transplant can be time (spent on a waiting list) as well as money. The cost of a lung transplant can be enormous, with beginning estimates starting at $735,000 for surgery and the first year of medication. Although this can be a mitigating factor for many, there is hope. Stem cell therapy is an alternative treatment option which uses the body’s natural healing mechanisms (stem cells) to promote internal repair. When introduced into the body of patients with chronic lung disease, stem cell therapy has shown the ability to reduce inflammation and ease breathing. The benefit of stem cell therapy–particularly in comparison to more traditional forms of treatment (inhalers, corticosteroids, and oxygen therapy)–is that stem cell therapy works to address not only symptoms but disease progression as whole.
It’s important to consider any and all options (including lung transplant) on the path to better health. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. However, if you’re looking to address COPD progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy directly affects disease progression and can improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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