Lung Transplant

Breathe easier with a whole new lease on life

If you suffer from lung disease, breathing can become very difficult and you are no longer able to enjoy life. Serious lung diseases with symptoms that can no longer be improved with other treatments may require a lung transplant.

A timely lung transplant referral will help your doctors determine if a lung transplant is right for you.

Our Expertise

For more than 30 years, our Thoracic Transplant team has performed lung transplants at IU Health Methodist Hospital. As the state's only lung transplant program, our experience includes more than 1,000 patients transplanted. We offer single and double (bilateral) lung transplants as well as multi-organ transplants. Our team of experts across many specialties will help you and your family navigate each step of the transplant process.

At IU Health Methodist Hospital, patients have access to an internationally recognized ECMO program for heart and lung support and the Center of Life for Thoracic Transplant (COLTT) for pulmonary rehabilitation before and after surgery.

A patient walks on the track at the COLTT Center
A patient walks on the track at the COLTT Center

Understanding Lung Transplant Surgery

Lung transplant surgery involves removing your diseased lung and replacing it with a healthy lung from an organ donor. Patients who benefit the most from a lung transplant include those with end-stage lung disease, such as:

Typically, these patients are on oxygen at rest and/or have frequent inpatient hospitalizations due to their lung disease.

Lung Transplant Evaluation

To qualify for a lung transplant, the first step is for you or your doctor to complete and submit this referral form to the IU Health Lung Transplant Program. Our transplant team will review your medical records. A transplant financial counselor will verify your insurance benefits to make sure you are covered for transplant care at IU Health.

If we determine you are a potential candidate and you wish to proceed, the next step is a two-day lung transplant evaluation at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

You will be assigned a pre-transplant coordinator to help you navigate the steps leading up to your transplant. You will be required to identify a primary caregiver to attend the two-day evaluation with you and support you throughout the transplantation process. During the evaluation, you and this support person will also meet with other members of our dedicated lung transplant team that includes:

  • Transplant-specialized doctors
  • Surgeons
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Respiratory therapists and physical therapists
  • Social workers
  • Dietitians

For this stay, IU Health and ProCare Network staff will assist patients and families from out of town in finding and booking hotels in downtown Indianapolis at significant discounts. To access this service, call 317.974.2039 for assistance (available 24-hours-a-day, seven days per week). For more information, visit the ProCare website.

After the evaluation is complete, the lung transplant team meets to discuss your results and determine if a lung transplant is right for you. You and your referring physician will be notified of the decision and recommendations for next steps.

Lung transplant procedure

Your lung transplant will take place at IU Health Methodist Hospital. Your family will be kept updated throughout the surgery. You will spend the first few days in the critical care unit for close monitoring and then will move to a regular floor bed. You may need oxygen for a period of time after surgery.

Patients typically stay seven days in the hospital after receiving a lung transplant. You and your primary support person will receive education from multiple members of the care team before you leave the hospital.

What to Expect with Lung Lung Transplant

Our Expertise

For more than 30 years, our Thoracic Transplant team has performed lung transplants at IU Health Methodist Hospital. As the state's only lung transplant program, our experience includes more than 1,000 patients transplanted. We offer single and double (bilateral) lung transplants as well as multi-organ transplants. Our team of experts across many specialties will help you and your family navigate each step of the transplant process.

At IU Health Methodist Hospital, patients have access to an internationally recognized ECMO program for heart and lung support and the Center of Life for Thoracic Transplant (COLTT) for pulmonary rehabilitation before and after surgery.

A patient walks on the track at the COLTT Center
A patient walks on the track at the COLTT Center

Understanding Lung Transplant Surgery

Lung transplant surgery involves removing your diseased lung and replacing it with a healthy lung from an organ donor. Patients who benefit the most from a lung transplant include those with end-stage lung disease, such as:

Typically, these patients are on oxygen at rest and/or have frequent inpatient hospitalizations due to their lung disease.

Lung Transplant Evaluation

To qualify for a lung transplant, the first step is for you or your doctor to complete and submit this referral form to the IU Health Lung Transplant Program. Our transplant team will review your medical records. A transplant financial counselor will verify your insurance benefits to make sure you are covered for transplant care at IU Health.

If we determine you are a potential candidate and you wish to proceed, the next step is a two-day lung transplant evaluation at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

You will be assigned a pre-transplant coordinator to help you navigate the steps leading up to your transplant. You will be required to identify a primary caregiver to attend the two-day evaluation with you and support you throughout the transplantation process. During the evaluation, you and this support person will also meet with other members of our dedicated lung transplant team that includes:

  • Transplant-specialized doctors
  • Surgeons
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Respiratory therapists and physical therapists
  • Social workers
  • Dietitians

For this stay, IU Health and ProCare Network staff will assist patients and families from out of town in finding and booking hotels in downtown Indianapolis at significant discounts. To access this service, call 317.974.2039 for assistance (available 24-hours-a-day, seven days per week). For more information, visit the ProCare website.

After the evaluation is complete, the lung transplant team meets to discuss your results and determine if a lung transplant is right for you. You and your referring physician will be notified of the decision and recommendations for next steps.

Lung transplant procedure

Your lung transplant will take place at IU Health Methodist Hospital. Your family will be kept updated throughout the surgery. You will spend the first few days in the critical care unit for close monitoring and then will move to a regular floor bed. You may need oxygen for a period of time after surgery.

Patients typically stay seven days in the hospital after receiving a lung transplant. You and your primary support person will receive education from multiple members of the care team before you leave the hospital.

Waiting for the call

When you are approved to be added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist, you will begin the next step of waiting for a lung transplant. Your lung Composite Allocation Score (CAS) is an important factor in determining how soon you will receive a lung transplant when a donor lung becomes available.

A transplant coordinator will contact you when your transplant surgeon receives an organ offer for you. As you wait for the call, it will be important for you to stay as healthy as you can and to keep the transplant team informed of any changes in your health, your contact information or insurance coverage.

It is also important to be strong going into the procedure so that you will have an easier recovery and get the most out of your transplant. Good nutrition and pulmonary rehabilitation are an important part of preparing for this life changing event. Prior to your transplant, you should attend pulmonary rehabilitation regularly and be able to walk 30 minutes on a treadmill and cycle 30 minutes on a stationary bike.

In addition to having your bag packed and a plan for transportation to Indianapolis, keep your cell phone close and your voice mailbox empty should your transplant coordinator need to leave a message. You will receive education in advance to prepare you for this call.

Preparing for Transplant

Waiting for the call

When you are approved to be added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist, you will begin the next step of waiting for a lung transplant. Your lung Composite Allocation Score (CAS) is an important factor in determining how soon you will receive a lung transplant when a donor lung becomes available.

A transplant coordinator will contact you when your transplant surgeon receives an organ offer for you. As you wait for the call, it will be important for you to stay as healthy as you can and to keep the transplant team informed of any changes in your health, your contact information or insurance coverage.

It is also important to be strong going into the procedure so that you will have an easier recovery and get the most out of your transplant. Good nutrition and pulmonary rehabilitation are an important part of preparing for this life changing event. Prior to your transplant, you should attend pulmonary rehabilitation regularly and be able to walk 30 minutes on a treadmill and cycle 30 minutes on a stationary bike.

In addition to having your bag packed and a plan for transportation to Indianapolis, keep your cell phone close and your voice mailbox empty should your transplant coordinator need to leave a message. You will receive education in advance to prepare you for this call.

You may feel overwhelmed for awhile after your lung transplant as you recover and adjust to your new medications. Your post-transplant coordinator and other members of the transplant team will support and guide you and your family through your recovery and after care. Your primary support person will be responsible for helping you manage your medications, providing assistance with personal care and driving you to and from appointments during your recovery.

You will have frequent appointments at the Advanced Heart and Lung Disease Clinic and be required to attend 30 days of pulmonary rehabilitation and physical therapy in the Center of Life for Thoracic Transplant (COLTT) at IU Health Methodist Hospital after your transplant. This program will put you on the right track in your recovery and is designed to maximize the gift from your organ donor. It is always a day to celebrate when patients ring the bell hanging on the wall in the COLTT on their last day of rehab.

Your transplant social worker will assist you with, among other things, with information about transplant support groups for patients and caregivers, extended stay housing options through ProCare Network and Fair Haven Foundation, as well as how to communicate with your donor’s family if you wish to do so.

Following the first year after transplant, many of our patients have enjoyed getting involved as a volunteer with Indiana Donor Network and/or participating in the Transplant Games of America as a member of Team Indiana.

After Your Transplant

You may feel overwhelmed for awhile after your lung transplant as you recover and adjust to your new medications. Your post-transplant coordinator and other members of the transplant team will support and guide you and your family through your recovery and after care. Your primary support person will be responsible for helping you manage your medications, providing assistance with personal care and driving you to and from appointments during your recovery.

You will have frequent appointments at the Advanced Heart and Lung Disease Clinic and be required to attend 30 days of pulmonary rehabilitation and physical therapy in the Center of Life for Thoracic Transplant (COLTT) at IU Health Methodist Hospital after your transplant. This program will put you on the right track in your recovery and is designed to maximize the gift from your organ donor. It is always a day to celebrate when patients ring the bell hanging on the wall in the COLTT on their last day of rehab.

Your transplant social worker will assist you with, among other things, with information about transplant support groups for patients and caregivers, extended stay housing options through ProCare Network and Fair Haven Foundation, as well as how to communicate with your donor’s family if you wish to do so.

Following the first year after transplant, many of our patients have enjoyed getting involved as a volunteer with Indiana Donor Network and/or participating in the Transplant Games of America as a member of Team Indiana.

Learn More

For more information about the lung transplant program, call 800.510.2725 or email transplantinfo@iuhealth.org.

Email Us

Jan 08

Tracking steps before and after transplant

Years prior to needing a lung transplant, Herb Wissel had been tracking his steps with a Fitbit.

Tracking steps before and after transplant image.

Patient Stories for Lung Transplant

Jan 08

Tracking steps before and after transplant

Years prior to needing a lung transplant, Herb Wissel had been tracking his steps with a Fitbit.

Tracking steps before and after transplant image.

Indiana Advance Directives for Healthcare

Advance care planning is a process to help any adult, at any stage of health, understand and share their goals and preferences regarding future medical care. A part of advance care planning may involve completing an advance directive.

Resources

Indiana Advance Directives for Healthcare

Advance care planning is a process to help any adult, at any stage of health, understand and share their goals and preferences regarding future medical care. A part of advance care planning may involve completing an advance directive.