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How Long Can a Person Live After Lung Transplant?

Reports from the international transplant directory suggest that 9 out of 10 people survive after a lung transplant procedure, which is quite hopeful. The survival of people living after a lung transplant typically ranges between 1-20 years, depending on several factors.

This blog will explore further details regarding life expectancy after a lung transplant and the factors at play.

What is a Realistic Lung Transplant Prognosis?

A lung transplant is a patient’s second chance at life, especially a double lung transplant. Not only is the procedure life-saving, the procedure drastically improves a patient’s quality of life too.

Most patients, following their recovery after lung transplant, report a reduction in their prior symptoms of breathlessness and choking feeling. A lung transplant also enables the patient to lead an active lifestyle they once thought was never on the cards for them.

Around 80% of lung transplant recipients report that they can easily revert to their priorly active lifestyle. Even 40% of individuals report that they can resume their career that was once put on a sudden hold.

But, we are discussing a realistic life after a lung transplant. And to understand that, we need to keep in mind that a lung transplant isn’t a 100% safe procedure. The odds are often very imbalanced.

Complications and risks after lung transplant are quite high. One of the most common risks is the rejection of the transplanted lung. Despite being on immunosuppressant therapy, there is a high risk that the patient’s body might reject the lung that was transplanted into their body. Tissue rejection might lead to fatal complications too.

However, the good news is that these complications (if caught on time) are manageable. Besides the complication of rejection, the administration of inductive immunosuppressants often imposes side effects on the body, leading to heightened risks of infections and kidney damage.

If we had to give a realistic rundown of life expectancy after a lung transplant, the numbers are as follows:

1 year after lung transplant – 90% of patients survive

3 years after lung transplant – 55-70% of patients survive

5+ years after the lung transplant – 32-54% of patients survive

Also, the bright side is that the advancements in medical technology are paving the path for better median survival rates after transplantation. These values are continuously improving.

What Influences the Life Expectancy after Lung Transplant?

We just discussed the survival rate of lung transplants, and our first advice is not to let these numbers intimidate you. That’s why Dr. Arvind Kumar believes in prioritizing open and transparent discussions about the procedure and what the patient can expect before, during, and after the transplant.

As we consistently highlight, transplantation isn’t the finish line. Instead, that’s where the journey to recovery and a new life initiates.

Multiple factors influence the survival rate after a lung transplant, including:

1. Success Rate of the Surgery

Whether or not the lung transplantation surgery was a success factor in the recovery and life expectancy. This is one of the reasons only specialized doctors with decades of learning experience in the medical field do such critical surgeries.

Dr. Arvind Kumar is a leading and acclaimed chest surgeon in India with 40+ years of experience. Having the trust of such experienced surgeons is the first step towards enhancing your chances of a prolonged life expectancy after the transplantation.

2. Adjustments and Acclimatization

Life after a lung transplant procedure has its highs and lows. While you eventually get to return to your previously active self, you also need to listen to your body.

Recovery after a lung transplant can take somewhere between 3-6 months. Hence focusing on active recovery is crucial before you jump into your previous lifestyle. Additionally, the body also takes some time to adjust to maintaining immunosuppressants, which have several side effects.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Many patients have a misconception that a newly transplanted lung means that you can be reckless with your habits and lifestyle. That isn’t the case at all. Even though your lungs are stronger than your diseased lung, the transplanted lungs still need optimal care to ensure they are in their best shape.

Introducing healthy lifestyle changes is thus crucial if you want to enhance or improve your survival rate after a successful lung transplant. Generally, lifestyle changes include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet
  • Being physically active and having an exercise program
  • Avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, drugs, alcohol, etc.

4. Managing Additional Chronic Complications

A lung transplant patient might already have chronic and metabolic ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular complications, etc.

Life expectancy after a lung transplant heavily relies on managing these additional complications with optimal care. From taking medications on time to following the management the doctor has suggested, a patient needs to be mindful of all the advice their healthcare provider has suggested them.

Final Words

Life expectancy after a lung transplant is a very subjective thing. While some patients live for a year, some live 10+ and even 20+ years following their transplant. It depends on the age of the patient, lifestyle, and the efficiency of the transplantation by an experienced surgeon.

Having transparent and clear discussions about success rate, survival rate, and life after a transplant with your surgeon is a crucial part of the transplantation procedure. Why not put your faith in a leading chest surgeon with 40+ years of experience?

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