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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Immune System and Isolation After Lung Transplant
My question is about my girlfriend who had a lung transplant on July 26, 2008. Its almost about to be a full six months. She has been kept in isolation in her house since she left the hospital after the surgery. I understand that after having the surgery patients have been able to go back to their normal activities and go out, and not be isolated at home. She says her doctors have her in isolation to avoid getting an infection. Please explain this. Thank you for your time.
As with all solid organ transplant recipients, lung transplant patients are at increased risk for all types of infections. This is because the medication that they take to prevent rejection of their transplanted lung affects and weakens their immune system, making them potentially susceptible to a myriad of infections.
While every case has to be considered individually, recipients of lung transplants are generally counseled to:
- wash their hands frequently,
- avoid persons who are ill,
- avoid recently immunized infants, and
- avoid areas of building construction or demolition.
While a physician may recommend wearing a mask or temporary isolation during a specific outbreak or in a potentially high risk situation, no data exist that suggest that recipients of lung transplants be kept in isolation indefinitely.
David R Nunley, MD, FCCP
Former Associate Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University