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Chronic lung diseases are progressive, and this means they get worse over time. Lung transplants are a type of surgical procedure that replaces diseased lungs with healthy lungs from a donor. These procedures are typically reserved for patients in the most severe stages of chronic lung disease, and they’re not considered until less invasive treatment options, such as medication, lose their effectiveness.

What Are the Benefits of a Lung Transplant?

The main benefit of transplant surgery is that the patient may regain greater function in their lungs, and this can drastically improve their quality of life. Lung transplant surgery has a high survival rate. In fact, about 82% of lung transplant patients survive their first year after surgery. After three to five years, the survival rate drops to between 65% and 51%.

Also, the lung function of transplant patients tends to dramatically increase in the year after surgery. For instance, one study found that the forced expiratory volume (FEV1) of patients was almost 4 times greater after surgery. Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in chronic lung disease symptoms.

Some Drawbacks of Lung Transplants

Although lung transplant does have benefits, there are also some serious risks associated with this procedure. In addition to the invasive nature of this surgery, it requires time in the ICU followed by several months of recovery. You’ll be required to take immunosuppressive drugs because there is a risk that your immune system will reject the transplanted lungs. Taking such drugs is problematic because they increase your likelihood of getting infections, viruses and other illnesses.

Another drawback of this surgery is that it can be extremely expensive. In fact, one report claims that double lung transplants cost about $798,000. This includes paying for the surgery, the surgeon, the hospital stay, the transport of the donor lungs, care before and after surgery and the required immunosuppressive drugs and other medications.

There is also a chance that you could experience chronic rejection or bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) after surgery. This issue is difficult to treat, and between 25-50% of transplant patients experience some level of BOS according to one study.  

Cellular Therapy Is a Treatment Option Available at Lung Health Institute

There are some treatment options commonly used for chronic lung disease that you should consider before having a lung transplant. For instance, medications like inhaled corticosteroids are often used to treat chronic lung disease symptoms. Supplemental oxygen is also a commonly prescribed treatment for such symptoms. However, there’s another option that you should consider to supplement these more traditional treatments.

Cellular therapy is a treatment option offered for chronic lung disease by our Lung Health Institute health care team. This treatment option is useful for many chronic lung disease patients, and it is far less invasive than a lung transplant.

When a patient receives cellular therapy, also called platelet-rich plasma-platelet concentrate (PRP-PC), a small sample of the patient’s own blood is taken. From this small blood sample, helpful cells, proteins and growth factors are separated and concentrated. The concentrated cells are then returned into the bloodstream. Once returned to the bloodstream, these cells may promote the repair of damaged tissue and reduce inflammation. In turn, this may allow patients to Breathe Easier™, which can improve their quality of life.

It’s Important to Know Your Options

Both lung transplants and cellular therapy can help patients with chronic lung diseases. However, you’ll want to make sure you strongly consider which option is right for you. This may mean talking to a pulmonologist and your primary care doctor, and they may have you take tests to determine how well your lungs are functioning before offering you their opinions.

You may also want to look for information online that shows the advantages and disadvantages offered by these specific treatment options. Our Lung Health Institute health care team is ready and willing to be a part of your research and treatment process. In fact, we have patient coordinators available to can help you learn more about all the treatment options available at Lung Health Institute locations.

Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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