The lungs are critical for human survival and well-being. They provide vital oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, clear infectious microbes, and filter particles from the air. Our breath gives us life by allowing us to act and think.
The respiratory system consists of the upper and lower respiratory tracts. The upper respiratory tract includes the nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, and nasopharynx. The lower respiratory tract begins at the larynx level and includes the trachea and numerous small airway branches culminating in tiny alveolar sacs. The trachea divides into the right and left main bronchi. The heart pumps blood to the heart through the pulmonary artery. This blood gets oxygenated by the lung and the oxygenated blood flows back to the heart through the pulmonary veins.
Unfortunately, the lungs are susceptible to many insults and advanced lung disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide. If a patient’s lung condition has become severe and irreversible, then a lung transplant is an increasingly viable option.
Lung transplant involves the removal of the damaged lung and replacement with a new healthy organ. To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your side about 6 inches below your armpit. This cut is called an incision. Then, the doctor removes part of a rib so he or she can take out your lung a put in the new one. Next, he or she connects the new lung’s blood vessels to your body’s blood vessels and connects the main bronchial tube of the new lung to your main bronchial tube. Then the doctor closes the incision with stitches or staples. These are removed about 1 to 3 weeks after surgery. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time.
During a lung transplant the surgeon disconnects the veins, arteries and veins and sews them to the new donor lung. After surgery, the new lung will start to work right away. You will probably spend 1 to 3 weeks in the hospital. But it may take 2 to 3 months for your energy to return fully.