Lung Transplant: Evaluation

The transplant decision is a complicated one and involves input from a lot of people, including you.

Our evaluation process has been carefully coordinated to meet the specific needs of your health history.

We have tried to schedule your entire evaluation to fit into one visit to the University of Iowa. We know that you may have traveled a long distance to get here and we want to be respectful of your time.

Every evaluation is different because every patient is unique. Typically, every evaluation includes an update of your health history, blood draw for routine laboratory tests, thorough history and physical exams, an assessment by a social worker, a review of your insurance by a financial counselor, and additional testing or consults as needed.

Medical Evaluation

Potential lung transplant candidates will complete an evaluation process that includes a variety of blood tests, procedures, and consultations. Defining a clear picture of your health increases the likelihood of a successful outcome; therefore transplant candidates must undergo tests to determine their heart, lung, and kidney function. Multiple tubes of blood samples are needed to assess the function of your body's systems. Blood samples will also be used to screen for viruses, evidence of cancer, and tissue typing.

Consultations

As part of your medical evaluation, you will meet with a team of doctors and auxiliary staff. These may include:

  • Transplant Surgeon
  • Pulmonologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Nutritionist
  • Dentist
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Transplant Coordinator
  • Social Worker

Educational Conference

At the evaluation conference you will meet with a transplant coordinator, who is a registered nurse specializing in organ transplantation. During this meeting, the coordinator will describe all aspects of the transplant process.

You are encouraged to bring family and friends to this meeting. You will learn about how candidates are selected for transplantation, risks and benefits, complications of the procedure, hospital routines, and care after you leave the hospital.

During the educational session, you will have ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss your concerns. The transplant coordinator will assist you and your family through preparation, education, and listing on the donor registry.

Social Services

The lung transplant team has a multidisciplinary approach, which stresses the importance of treating individuals as a whole. We recognize the importance of the patient's emotional and mental needs, as well as physical needs.

A transplant social services representative will meet with you at your evaluation. The social worker gathers information about you and your family, your coping abilities, substance abuse history, support systems, and ability to follow important post transplant instructions. This information helps the social worker determine your needs while you are in the hospital and how to better prepare you for the transplant experience. The social worker provides emotional support and information, helps plan for your discharge, and can help you explore appropriate groups and service agencies in your local community.

Approval for Transplantation

When the evaluation is completed, the lung transplant committee will review the results of tests, procedures, and consultations. This committee, which meets weekly, consists of the nurses, physicians, social workers, and others who you have met throughout the evaluation process. All members contribute their opinion; and a decision is made with regard to further testing, additional treatment, and when you should be added to the waiting list.

If you are approved for transplantation, you will be placed on the recipient list of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Lung recipients are matched to donor according to blood type, tissue type, organ size, and waiting time on the list.