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Lung Transplantation

Lung Transplant Recipients and Bariatric Surgery

06/21/2010

Question:

I have pulmonary hypertension. My doctor says a lung transplant would cure, but I am not eligible because I am obese. (This is ironic because I probably got the pulmonary hypertension from using fen-phen, which I was doing to try to lose weight.) My doctor has tried to talk me into having bariatric surgery. If I have bariatric surgery and lose a lot of weight could I be eligible for a lung transplant? I am about 100 lbs overweight (and some of that is water from the huge amount of edema in my legs and abdomen from the pulmonary hypertension). Could I get on the transplant list when I have the weight loss surgery prior to the weight loss, or would I have to actually lose the weight first before I could get on the list? My understanding is that I only have less than 2 years to live without a lung transplant, for which my doctor thinks I am ineligible. How can I become eligible to get on the list?

Answer:

I would encourage you and your physician to contact your chosen lung transplant center to begin evaluation and work on a firm plan for weight loss. Bariatric surgery (including procedures such as lap banding) could potentially help in your efforts and would not likely disqualify you for lung transplant surgery, but any procedure in a patient with severe pulmonary hypertension can be more complicated and more dangerous for the patient.

I would urge you to seek your care only in centers with significant experience with pulmonary hypertension patients, and make certain everyone involved in your care are communicating with each other and that they understand the plans for your care (including yourself).

For more information:

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Response by:

Amy L Pope-Harman, MD Amy L Pope-Harman, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University