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Who Is a Good Candidate for Lung Transplant?

Organ transplantation, in any form, is an extremely sensitive procedure that’s reserved for terminally ill patients with other options for survival. In the case of lung transplantation, the procedure is reserved for patients who are suffering from “end-stage lung failure.”

This suggests that their lungs are at their wits end and no number of medications or assistive therapies are enough to keep them functional. Such patients are immediately prioritized and put on the transplant list and are prepared for the eventual surgery when a donors lung is available.

Whether or not you match the lung transplant candidate criteria will depend on several factors. We will discuss more on that in this blog.

When do you qualify for lung transplantation?

As we discussed above, patients suffering from end-stage lung disease are the first in line. These are the patients whose lungs are damaged beyond repair and aren’t responding to any kind of medical therapy.

At Medanta, our team of chest surgeons, led by Dr Arvind Kumar, assess every lung transplant applicant who walks through the hospital’s doors. Irrespective of age, chest size, and complications, every patient is assessed to determine the degree of damage before further assistive measures are put in place.

Which Conditions Warrant a Lung Transplantation?

Its not just the symptoms that confirm a patient’s eligibility for a lung transplant. Instead, the group of surgeons first assesses what’s contributing to the deteriorating condition of the lungs before switching to a potential treatment plan.

Some of the conditions that often lead to end-stage lung damage are:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – It is a type of chronic inflammatory disease that prevents normal airflow in and out of the lungs.

Pulmonary fibrosis – A chronic ailment that happens from damage and scarring of the lung tissues, making it harder for the lungs to perform optimally.

Cystic fibrosis – A life-threatening condition that affects the cells responsible for secreting mucus, sweat, and digestive juices in the body.

Sarcoidosis – It involves the development of granulomas or inflammatory cells in the lungs, leading to the organ’s inefficiency.

Bronchiectasis – It is characterized by the widening of the airways inside the lungs, leading to excess mucus formation and build-up and difficulty breathing.

Emphysema – A chronic and deteriorating lung disorder that causes shortness of breath due to damaged alveolar sacs in the lungs.

These are just a handful of conditions that lead to end-stage lung failure and assure eligibility for a lung transplant in the patient.

What are some Exclusion Criteria for Lung Transplant?

Now, you must be thinking, “If I have any of these conditions mentioned above, do I qualify for a lung transplant if my lungs aren’t working?”

The answer to that is Yes and No. You might qualify if you have one of these chronic ailments that are causing end-stage lung failure in you, but there are a few exclusion criteria as well.

Since organ donation is a delicate procedure and there is a scarce availability of organs to be transplanted from a dead donor to a living recipient, the surgeons have to ensure that the donor organs go to the most eligible candidate.

Some of the exclusion criteria include:

  • Patients with a BMI over 35 aren’t always considered an ideal candidate
  • Patients who have battled cancer in the last 5 years aren’t an ideal candidate
  • Patients who have smoked rigorously in the last 6 months aren’t an ideal candidate
  • Patients who have abused substances like marijuana, cocaine, etc., aren’t an ideal candidate

When Do you Qualify for a Lung Transplant?

There are multiple considerations for a lung transplant before they are considered eligible for the surgery. In most cases, surgeons prioritize the most difficult cases in the bunch to help them live a life without the looming dread of death over their shoulders.

You likely qualify as a lung transplant candidate if you:

  • Have end-stage lung failure
  • Have a high risk of dying in the next two years without a transplantation
  • Have the physical strength and ability to live after 90-days after the lung transplant
  • Have a chance of living 5+ years with the donors lungs

The entire lung transplant team at Medanta is responsible for monitoring and assessing the patient’s medical history and current state of being to determine their eligibility for the surgery.

P.S – These eligibility criteria are subject to change from one transplant center to the other.


Lung transplantation is primarily done using the lungs of a deceased donor, instead of a living lung donor. This is one of the reasons why the selection procedure for the lung transplant candidate is crucial.

Dr Arvind Kumar, a leading chest surgeon and head of Surgery at Medanta, leads the lung transplant team at Medanta, where several factors are analyzed before a patient is deemed eligible for the lung transplantation procedure.

If you are personally battling similar pulmonary complications, visit Dr. Arvind Kumar to schedule an appointment.

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