Lung transplant evaluation and preparation

Lung transplantation can be complex. You want a group of highly trained and dedicated experts to guide you and your family through the journey. Lean on the specialists at Spectrum Health for the care and support you need throughout the process.

Lung transplant evaluation

Partner with experienced specialists at Spectrum Health for an individualized lung transplant evaluation to decide the next steps in your lung disease care. You’ll receive a thorough yet personalized evaluation that’s shorter than most transplant centers.

What to expect
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Over the course of two days, you’ll meet with several transplant team members. To help determine whether a lung transplant is right for you, they’ll: 

  • Ask about your medical history and other health conditions that may affect your successful transplant.
  • Assess your psychological and social readiness.
  • Order lab and imaging tests, such as 
    • Blood tests 
    • Chest X-ray 
    • Colonoscopy to examine the lower large intestine 
    • Computed tomography (CT) scans to examine your lung shape, size and structure 
    • Dental exam, including X-rays 
    • Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan to measure bone density 
    • Frailty test to determine the risk of post-surgery complications 
    • Mammogram (for women) to detect abnormal breast growths 
    • Pulmonary function tests to show how well your lungs work 
    • Ultrasounds to check your abdominal organs 
    • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy to examine your esophagus, stomach and the upper part of your small intestine 

Your transplant coordinator will help you schedule all your appointments and guide you and your family through the evaluation process.

What to bring
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Help you and your transplant team make informed decisions about your care options when you bring:

  • A family member or close friend who can help care for you after your surgery
  • Insurance card/s
  • Medical records
  • List of medications
  • Portable oxygen for the length of your evaluation
Evaluation results
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Our selection committee will review your evaluation information and test results to determine whether you’re a candidate for a lung transplant.

Your transplant coordinator will tell you the committee’s decision within one day.

If you’re not a candidate for a lung transplant, we’ll discuss other care options, such as a lung volume reduction surgery.

Transplant waitlist

If you’re a candidate for lung transplant, we will place you on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) computerized waitlist. UNOS coordinates the nation’s organ transplant system providing fair access to organs as they become available. 

Ask your Spectrum Health transplant team if you have questions about your status on the waitlist.

How long do I have to wait?
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Our time to transplant is lower than the national average. Your wait time will depend on:

  • Availability of donor lungs
  • Whether you need a single lung or both lungs replaced
  • Your blood type and chest size
  • Your lung allocation score (LAS)
How we reduce wait time

You have a better chance of receiving a transplant because we use advanced technology to make more donor lungs available.

  • Ex vivo lung profusion (EVLP) keeps lungs alive longer outside the body
  • Antiviral drugs mean you can safely receive lungs from a donor who had hepatitis C
Pretransplant care
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Rely on your transplant care team to monitor your health, answer your questions, and support you and your family while you wait. You’ll have frequent visits to check your health. 

If you live outside of Grand Rapids, ask about options for virtual care. You may be able to receive some pretransplant care in your home or community.

Make your surgery and recovery easier by building strength through our pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Getting the call
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When donor lungs become available, your transplant coordinator will call you to come to the hospital. It’s very important that you come to the hospital right away. 

Sometimes transplants are cancelled at the last minute because it’s not safe to perform the surgery. If your surgery is cancelled, your transplant coordinator will talk to you about next steps.

Support services for you and your family
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  • Financial counseling to help you navigate insurance benefits and costs
  • Nutrition assistance to maintain or improve your health
  • Pharmacy support and medication guidance
  • Ongoing transplant education for you and your family

Transplant referrals

Self-Referral

Contact our care navigator or make an appointment to discuss your health needs. 

Physician Referral

Submit patient referral information through EpicCare Link, by calling our clinic directly, or through form submission. 

Get a Second Opinion

Feel certain you’re getting the best care with a second opinion at Spectrum Health.