Lung transplants take 6-8 hours, and you will be monitored for several more hours after surgery in the operating room before moving to the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU). If you are getting a single lung, the incision will be across your side and around the back of the chest. For a double lung transplant, the incision is typically done under the breast line, from armpit to armpit. Your family will be updated periodically during the procedure to let them know how you are doing.
Once you are taken back to the CVICU, you will have many lines and tubes in place. You may have IV medications to help with blood pressure control; you may require blood products and special medications to lower your immune system. You will have up to four chest tubes - two on each side of your chest for double lung transplants and two on the transplanted side for single lung transplant. The average time a patient spends on a breathing machine varies, but the average time following a lung transplant is three days. Once you are breathing on your own and the breathing tube has been removed, you will be required to participate in aggressive physical therapy to lower the risk of getting pneumonia in your new lung(s), which could make you very sick and extend your hospital stay.
The transplant surgeon will update your family following the surgery. Your family will be allowed to see you as soon as you are stable in the CVICU. The CVICU has open visitation hours with the exception of 6:30 - 8:30 am and pm.
Once your transplant team decides you no longer require intensive care, you will be transitioned to a "step-down" unit for intermediate level care. Our nurses in the step-down unit have specialized training in caring for lung transplant recipients. You will continue to participate in physical therapy and going to Frazier Rehab Institute on the UofL Health - Jewish Hospital medical campus for pulmonary rehab to help teach you how to breathe with your new lung(s).