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Lung Transplantation

Criteria for an Emphysema Patient to Receive a Lung Transplant

02/25/2009

Question:

My mother is 60 years old and is in hospice. She suffers from severe emphysema. She is dependent on oxygen and morphine in order to be comfortable. Is she a candidate for a lung transplant?

Answer:

Emphysema is one of the leading indications for lung transplantation. Potential candidates are put through an arduous screening process to assure that they are otherwise healthy and can endure the rigors of the surgery and the lengthy recovery time. Part of this assessment involves an objective measurement of one's functional status.

For example, most programs require that a potential candidate be able to walk a minimum of 600 feet within 6 minutes. Research has shown that those who cannot achieve this goal typically do poorly after the transplant surgery. Unfortunately, most patients in hospice care do not qualify for transplantation on this basis. 

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Response by:

David  R Nunley, MD, FCCP David R Nunley, MD, FCCP
Former Associate Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University