Duke's lung transplant program ranks among the nation's best. We performed more transplants than any other center in 2014. Half of our patients receive their transplant within two weeks of being wait listed, which is significantly better than the national average. Our one-year survival rate is among the best in the country.
Duke’s nationally ranked lung transplant center
If you’re facing the possibility of a lung transplant, we understand your anxiety and uncertainty. Our goal is to help you live longer and get you back to the activities you enjoy. You can trust the experience of our surgeons, who successfully perform more lung transplants than any other program in the world. If you have lung disease, such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or scleroderma, we will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if you are candidate for lung transplantation. We are also highly skilled in transplanting people with complex lung conditions, including pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary graft versus host disease, common variable immune deficiency and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).
Choose Duke for your lung transplant because we offer:
- Pulmonary physical therapy to prepare you for transplant. Supervised exercise, education and medical management boost your lung function and get you in the best possible shape before surgery. Our program aims to shorten your hospital stay, reduce post-transplant complications, and ultimately help you enjoy a better quality of life.
- Comprehensive care before and after transplant. We educate you and your family about your emotional and physical needs before and after transplant. Our care guides outline what you can expect throughout the process, including how to prepare for a transplant and how to care for your body after a transplant.
- Experience in the challenges faced by older patients. We were one of the first centers in the U.S. to transplant patients over the age of 65, and have developed fast experience and knowledge in this patient population and the challenges faced. More than 50 percent of lung patients over the age of 65 in the U.S. choose Duke for their lung transplant.
- Help for patients who don't meet standard criteria. We often evaluate critically ill patients who are turned away by other medical centers. We achieve excellent results transplanting patients with coronary artery disease or those who require mechanical ventilation, and achieve excellent results.
- A transplant team of caring coordinators. Our dedicated team of transplant coordinators include advanced care nurses who help you navigate the transplant process and address your concerns. Your transplant coordinator will answer your questions about the initial evaluation and surgical procedure, as well as financial concerns and dietary requirements. We also educate you and your family about your emotional and physical needs before and after transplant.
- Multi-organ transplant expertise. Our surgeons have special expertise in multi-organ transplants, including heart-lung and a triple transplant of heart, lungs and liver.
- Transplantation research leaders. Our doctors were recently awarded a 5-year, $13M Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation (CTOT) grant to collaborate with four other leading lung transplant centers in North America. Together, we hope to advance the understanding of infection and long-term graft failure, which affects more than 50% of lung transplant recipients. Our leadership in transplantation research gives you access to the most up-to-date evidence-based practices available.
Before your lung transplant
Determines whether transplantation is the best therapy for you. The process may take several days, depending on what tests and screenings you’ll need. A transplant coordinator will help you plan your visit. Testing may include:
- Blood and tissue tests. Check blood type and compatibility, assess kidney, liver and immune system function, and screen for viruses or infections that could affect your outcome.
- Lung function tests. The pulmonary function test measures breathing capacity. The ventilation-perfusion lung scan checks the blood supply and the air supply to your lungs.
- Echocardiogram. Uses ultrasound to bounce sound waves off your heart to give information about its function and the condition of your heart valves.
- Esophageal manometry test. Shows your doctor how the muscles in your esophagus work when you swallow.
- Chest CT scan. Provides a 3-D image of the inside of your lungs and chest.
If you are considered a candidate for lung transplantation, you will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Unfortunately, not everyone listed for transplant will receive one, since there are not enough organs available for transplant. If you are notified that an organ is available, you will need to arrive at Duke within two hours. If you need to relocate to the Durham area, a transplant coordinator can assist you in gathering the resources and support you need.
All lung transplant candidates are required to participate in Duke’s renowned pulmonary physical therapy program before surgery. You will spend several weeks participating in supervised exercise and transplant education classes, led by our transplant team. They teach you and your caregivers about the transplant process, the medications you will take and the recovery process.
We involve your designated caregivers -- family members or friends -- from the time of your first evaluation through recovery. They attend your appointments and we educate them about their important role in your care after surgery. They are our partners in restoring your health as quickly as possible.
After your lung transplant
After discharge, you will return to our pulmonary physical therapy program to work on regaining your strength and improving your lung function. The program is designed to speed your recovery while our transplant team monitors your progress.
Although organ rejection may follow transplants, our innovative strategies to prevent organ rejection and injury are a documented success. We provide you and your caregivers the resources and support you need to live a healthy life after transplantation. Our transplant team is always available to answer your questions or address your concerns.
Our transplant team offers support groups for all of our transplant patients. These sessions, led by social workers, give transplant patients and their loved ones a chance to meet with others for emotional support, to ask questions and share information about issues such as medications, nutrition and exercise.