Lung Transplants for COPD: The Facts Behind Invasive Treatments

by | Oct 14, 2016 | COPD, Lung Transplant, Treatments

Everything you need to know about lung transplants for COPD.

Many Americans living with chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can often find themselves looking for relief from their symptoms. For some, traditional treatment options such as bronchodilator inhalers and corticosteroids are insufficient, treating only symptoms rather than disease progression. Although there are effective alternative treatment options available, many look first to lung transplants for COPD. However, though lung transplants can significantly improve quality of life within patients, the procedure is not without its downsides.

With your health in mind, the Lung Health Institute is here to break down everything you need to know about Lung Transplants for COPD: The Facts Behind Invasive Treatments.

Getting a Lung Transplant- An Overview

Although it may seem obvious, a lung transplant is not a simple surgery. In fact, it is extraordinarily complex, dangerous, time-consuming and expensive. Aside from the high costs and pre-screening conditions necessary to qualify (have severe lung disease but healthy enough to have the surgery), a general overview of the steps to receiving a lung are difficult to progress with 22 people dying every day from the lack of available organs for transplant.

Here are the general steps to getting a lung transplant:

  • A doctor refers the patient to a regional transplant center
  • During this visit, doctors, psychologists, social workers and staff will gather information from the patient (this may take weeks or months) examining physical health, family and social support, finances, psychological makeup and any other medical conditions or concerns.
  • Once testing is completed, a patient will be either confirmed or denied. If confirmed for a transplant, the patient’s name will be added to a regional and national organ recipient list.
  • In placement on this list, a Lung Allocation Score is used to determine ranking, this score is based on how likely the patient is to live without a lung transplant, as well as how long a patient is expected to live after a transplant.
  • When a set of lungs becomes available, the candidate will be immediately called to a transplant center to prepare for surgery.

After surgery, a patient can expect a recovery time of roughly two weeks to a month or longer. However, after surgery, the real work begins with the introduction of regular immune-suppressive drugs, frequent doctor visits, as well as physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises.

Lung Transplants for COPD: The Facts Behind Invasive Treatments

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Lung Transplants for COPD         

Although receiving a lung transplant is a long and arduous road, the benefits of a successful transplant are generally undeniable.


  • 80% of people recovering from a lung transplant surgery say they have no limitations on their physical activity.
  • For those surviving five years or more, nearly 40% continue to work at least part time.
  • Lung transplantation dramatically improves short-term quality of life

However, despite the life-altering benefits of a lung transplant, the procedure is not without its own drawbacks. Lung transplant surgery is an incredibly invasive procedure, and for seniors, this form of surgery is inherently dangerous even within the best standards. Here are a few other drawbacks:


  • A lung transplant is an incredibly expensive procedure, estimated costs beginning at $735k
  • Complications from a lung transplant are inevitable
  • Long-term survival after a lung transplant is not as promising as it is after other organ transplants, like kidney or liver.
    • 80% of people survive at least one year after lung transplant
    • 55-70% of people survive at least one year after lung transplant
  • Lung transplants patients see some of the highest rates of acute rejection than most other solid-transplant recipients.
  • Age at the time of transplant is the most important factor influencing lung transplant survival, and patients 60 or 65 are known to cause hesitation in transplant centers.

When Is It Time to Consider Cellular Therapy?

Every 10 minutes a name is added to the national transplant waiting list. Simply put, not everyone can get a lung transplant. But for those who cannot due to availability or the high cost of treatment, alternative treatment options exist in the form of cellular therapy.

Although cellular therapy for the treatment of COPD is a form a treatment that has rapidly advanced in recent years, it has shown significant efficacy in not only addressing lung disease symptoms but in addressing progression itself. Cellular therapy in comparison to more traditional treatment options (medication, inhalers and oxygen) uses the body’s natural reparative factors to promote healing from within, all while being virtually free of adverse effects.

Lung Transplants for COPD: The Facts Behind Invasive Treatments

Moving Forward…

It’s important to understand and discuss the facts behind lung transplants for COPD with your doctor in order to make the best decision. 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 cellular therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular 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 Health Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult cellular therapy options. Contact us today at 888-745-6697 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

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